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February is the month everyone is talking about love; how good it makes them feel when they receive it or how much they wish they had it. Many people talk about love as if its something they should receive because they are entitled to it.
In Matthew 22, Jesus says the two greatest commands are to love. We are to first love God with all our heart, soul and mind and then love our neighbors as ourselves. But what does it look like to love?
- Love is patient
- Love is kind
- Love does not envy
- Love does not boast
- Love is not proud
- Love is not rude
- Love is not self-seeking
- Love is not easily angered
- Love keeps no record of wrongs
- Love does not delight in evil
- Love rejoices with the truth
- Love always protects
- Love always trusts
- Love always hopes
- Love always perseveres
- Love never fails
Over the past few months, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 has been rattling around in my head. In this passage of scripture, God gives us a clear definition of what love is and is not. I confess, the first time I read this passage, I used it as a checklist for others and how they were failing to love me the way God wanted them to. I use to pray for God to help them love me the way I deserved to be loved.
Then God changed my heart. He gently reminded me I didn’t deserve love any more, or less, that anyone else did. We were all equal in His eyes. Because God loved me first, I was to love others first, to be the example of love.
We are called to love everyone, no matter what. If you come across someone you feel you can’t love, which we all will, many times throughout our lives, we can ask for God’s help. Pray, confess the difficulties you are experiencing while trying to love this person. Ask God to change your heart. Ask God to help you see this person the way He sees them. Ask God to show you, and help you understand, the gifts He has given them. Ask God for opportunities to love this person in a way only you can. I believe God will give you the ability to love this person, because He will change your heart, soul and mind.
I looked up each of the words that describe what love is or is not in the dictionary. This is what I came up with:
- Love bears provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, etc., with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger, or the like.
- Love desires to help others, is considerate or helpful.
- Love does not feel discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.
- Love does not speak with exaggeration and excessive pride about oneself.
- Love is not having or showing a high opinion of one’s own dignity, importance or superiority.
- Love is not discourteous, impolite, harsh or ungentle in a deliberate way.
- Love does not seek one’s own interest or selfish ends.
- Love is not easily displeased.
- Love does not intentionally remember being treated unfairly or unjustly.
- Love does not receive pleasure, satisfaction or enjoyment in wicked, harmful, or immoral acts.
- Love is delighted and joyful with acts of honesty and integrity.
- Love always defends or guards from attack, invasion, loss, annoyance, insult, etc.
- Love always sees others as confidently reliable.
- Love always looks forward with desire and confidence.
- Love is always steady in a course of action especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
- Love never falls short.
I don’t know about you, but this list seems overwhelming. Thankfully, God loves us and offers His grace to us regardless of how we fail to love the way He loves us. Also, we are not called to love in our own strength or ability. God will enable us to love, but we must first seek Him and His love for us.
God gifts us each in a way we naturally love. I usually find it fairly easy to be patient and kind toward others. How has God gifted you to love? I struggle with protecting and trusting others. I’m fearful of being hurt. What part of loving others do you struggle with?
My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the love you have for everyone everywhere. I pray Your love for us would pour out onto those in our lives, Amen.