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What Love Looks Like
We are told what love is and what it looks like from many sources in the world around us. The world focuses on romantic love and the love between family and friends. While these forms of love are good and have their place in the way God made things, there is also another type of love of which the Scriptures speak, a heavenly love that God has for us. This love that comes from God is something He wants believers to share with those around them, so that the world can see what love in its purest form looks like. This kind of love is not something we can work up on our own, and must be poured out through us by the Holy Spirit. As we learn to walk in it, it becomes easier to think about our words and actions within the context of this love.
Some time ago I was considering what this love from God looks like, especially as it comes through us to others. How does it act? What does it say? How does it think? How do I know that I am living in this love? Very practically, the Holy Spirit took me to a passage with which most Christians are quite familiar, 1 Corinthians 13. As I sit here now considering verses four through eight (first part), some examples come to mind in regards to what is said concerning love.
Love Is Patient
It helps others grow in understanding and practice in their walk with the Lord. It does not tailgate the the slow driver in front of you. It waits in a long line with a smile. It keeps teaching a child when the child does not seem to listen, without losing its temper.
Love Is Kind
It holds open the door for an elderly person. It invites the new person at church over for dinner. It speaks gently to the unfriendly cashier. It helps your tired friend with a newborn. It buys lunch for a homeless lady sitting in the park. It takes dinner to a family struggling with an illness in the family.
Love Is Not Jealous
It does not get upset that someone's hard work gets noticed while yours doesn't, and rejoices with that person. It does not begrudge your friend being able to have something better than you have -- car, house, etc. It does not despise someone else because they are more talented in a particular area than you are.
Love Does Not Brag
It does not trumpet its accomplishments to gain attention for itself, especially to make others feel less-than compared to you. It knows that all good things come from the Lord.
Love Is Not Arrogant
It does not think itself above talking to "those people" -- the poor, addicts, homeless, ignorant, and so on. It views no one as beneath you, but rather it enjoys the company of people regardless of their social status. It also does not think it knows everything.
Love Does Not Act Unbecomingly
It does not cut another person off in traffic on purpose. It does not say unkind things to people. It gives way to others, allowing them to be first. It does not knock things on the floor in a store and leave them for a worker to pick up. It is not demanding and ungrateful towards the exhausted waitress with more tables to serve than she can handle.
Love Noes Not Seek Its Own
It does not determine "what's in this for me?" before helping someone. It does not try to promote itself or its own interests -- at home, at church, or at work. It does not think it always needs the last word.
Love Is Not Provoked
It does not become angry when someone mocks you, especially about your faith; it knows God sees all things. It does not let your children's misbehavior drive you to respond to them in anger, but it instead gives you a heart to teach them what is right via the discipline you give them. It does not erupt in irritation at a co-worker who is antagonistic towards it.
Love Does Not Take into Account a Wrong Suffered
It forgives and forgets. It does not keep a mental logbook of others' sins against you. It does not throw past wrongs in the faces of the offenders after you claim to have forgiven them. It does not hold onto bitterness. It frees people from having to be accountable to you because it knows they will have to be accountable to God.
Love Does Not Rejoice in Unrighteousness
It does not cover for the family member in sin; it confronts the sin with a gentle spirit. It does not delight in ungodly behavior. It accepts people in their brokenness, but it does not accept the sin that is causing the brokenness.
Love Rejoices with the Truth
It is glad to see a person delivered from an addiction when they realize the truth of what Jesus did for them. It is happy when justice is given, especially to the orphan, the widow, and the needy. It is joyful when the Lord shines His light on an area of your heart so that sin is exposed, for it knows this exposure brings freedom when you repent. It finds joy in reading and hearing the word of God recorded in the Scriptures.
Love Bears All Things
It does not complain, even when it must go the extra mile for someone (especially if that someone is unappreciative). It keeps extending its arms to the teenager that keeps angrily pushing it away. It helps bear the burden of grief for a suffering friend.
Love Believes All Things
It keeps praying for the family member who does not want anything to do with Jesus or you because you believe in Him. It holds onto what God says because it knows His promises are true. It stands with a fellow believer in faith in a time of need or crisis.
Love Hopes All Things
It sees Jesus as being the answer to the difficulties that happen in life. It encourages a suffering brother or sister to hang on and know that God will lift up their heads. It looks at life with excitement, because it knows that God will be with it every step of the way. It remembers we have an eternity in glory with Him just up ahead and uses you to remind fellow believers of that fact.
Love Endures All Things
It goes through trials and tribulations on earth for the love of its King. It passes through the scorn of this world without being diminished. It keeps going, even when you feel weary. It smiles in the face of adversity.
Love Never Fails
It never fails to do all that has been said about it in the prior verses. It keeps its word. It never crumbles or fades, no matter what happens. It is strong. It always succeeds in accomplishing what God wants it to do, because the love has its source in Him. It never lets us down. It will always be here, from now into eternity.
Love Is a Fruit of the Spirit
Learning to walk in God's holy love while here on earth is a process, and not an impossibility. I know the examples above can seem daunting to carry out, but this is God's love we are talking about here. He does not expect us to love like this on our own. Love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit at work in us. As we allow Him to lead us day by day, we can and will live in such love.
Lord, thank-you for showing us what love looks like first and foremost in what Jesus did for us. There is no love like Yours. Help me to walk in Your love this day. May others see it in my words and actions and be drawn to You by it.