4Love is patient, love is kind. It’s not jealous or boastful. It’s not self-important. 5It doesn’t behave indecently, nor does it seek its own way. It doesn’t get provoked. It doesn’t plan evil. 6It doesn’t rejoice in injustice, but it rejoices with the genuine. 7It endures all things, believes all things, hopes all things, is patient through everything. — 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
In two previous devotionals we’ve looked at the importance of love and how it is the guide to our actions as Christians. We have been reminded that Jesus defined love for us through his life. Today we look at some of the characteristics of love.
Love is patient. This is a hard one for most of us. Even when we’re legitimately provoked, if we live according to the principle of love, we will be patient. That doesn’t mean we won’t take action if necessary, but we will not be hasty or thoughtless.
Love is kind. If our lives are guided by love, we will be kind to others, not assuming the worst, and not treating them as they may deserveâ€”in our eyesâ€”but as we would like to be treated. Even better, we will treat them as we know Jesus would like them to be treated.
Love is not jealous. Jealousy drives a great many evils. In fact, love as we see it in the popular media constantly produces jealousy. I love someone, so I am jealous of everyone else. I guard my relationships against others. I look with suspicion on my wife or girl friend’s associations. That kind of love makes me dangerous. That’s why we must always look to Jesus for the definition of what love really means.
Love is not boastful. Love doesn’t rub other people’s faces in its own successes. The person who loves doesn’t have to be the center of attention. He doesn’t have to be the most important person in the room. He’s willing to share his success with the team.
Love is not self-important. It’s so easy to become self-important. A healthy self-esteem annoys the devil, so he tries to pervert it into a sense of self-importance. God’s view is that each of us is important as a child of the king. If we are fulfilling our call in life, however the world rates that call, we can be joyful in that accomplishment. But the world rates importance by comparison to other people. The world will tell you there’s only so much â€œimportant-nessâ€ or â€œspecial-nessâ€ to go around, so you better make sure you grab your share. Love doesn’t work that way. When we’re guided by love, there’s always enough special-ness to go around!
Love doesn’t behave indecently. I looked around quite a bit for the right English word to use here. You’ll find a great variety in the English translations. The idea here is that love doesn’t behave in such a way as to offend people’s moral standards. If we are guided by love we will not want to scandalize others. Our behavior should not be a stumbling block.
Love doesn’t seek its own way. If we are guided by love we won’t have the attitude of â€œmy way or the highway.â€ We’ll be prepared to listen, to give consideration to the desires and views of others.
Easy? No, love isn’t easy. We’ll look at some more characteristics tomorrow.