Just So We Know


It has been said many times by many people that love has to look like something.  Very true.  The problem we have is that love looks different to each individual person.  To me love may look like someone bringing me coffee and a plate of cookies.  To you love may look like a long walk with your significant other, or like playing with your grandkids.  See what I mean?  The question we really need to ask is, “What does love look like from God’s standpoint?”  Fortunately He has painted us a picture just so we know.

A Portrait of Love

The apostle Paul paints us a portrait of love as it is to be manifested in the lives of God’s people.  We find this portrait in 1st Corinthians 13:4 – 7.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Notice that each of these characteristics is viewed in how they relate to others.  This is important because love cannot be seen unless it is directed toward someone else.  I think it is also important to say that this picture of love is not meant to intimidate us.  It is intended, rather, to inspire us and point us toward love in its truest manifestation.

Breaking It Down

Now, let’s break each of the characteristics of love down so we can really get a grasp on what Paul is talking about.

  • Love is patient (longsuffering):  Love suffering as it continues to extend good to the most irritating people under the most trying circumstances.
  • Love is kindLove in action as it seeks to benefit others in particularly helpful ways.
  • Love does not envyLove’s generosity as it celebrates the blessings of others.
  • Love does not boastLove’s restraint as it refuses to flaunt its talents or blessings in any way that will shame or dishonour others.
  • Love is not arrogantLove’s humility as it seeks to think of others more highly than itself.
  • Love is not rudeLove’s courtesy as it seeks to act honourably toward all others.
  • Love does not insist on its own wayLove yielding as it recognizes the value of the gifts and talents of other people.
  • Love is not irritableLove responding in a friendly temper regardless of the provocation.
  • Love is not resentfulLove’s mercy as it looks beyond the offense to the neediness of the person behind it.
  • Love does not rejoice at wrongdoingLove’s anguish as it knows wrongdoing is causing someone pain.
  • Love rejoices with the truthLove rejoicing in recognizing that the truth is best for all concerned.
  • Love bears all thingsLove protecting by refusing to spread the faults of others (love covers – 1st Peter 4:8).
  • Love believes all thingsLove’s trust in the work of God in each individual’s life.
  • Love hopes all thingsLove’s confidence that God will work everything out for the best of all concerned.
  • Love endures all thingsLove’s strength as it stays the course regardless of what may come.

Any questions?

Love Looks Like God

As beautiful and compelling as Paul’s portrait is, we have to remember that ultimately love looks like God because God is love (1st John 4:7 – 8).  All that we see in 1st Corinthians 13 we observe in the life of Jesus Christ when He walked among us, and He is God manifested in the flesh (John 1:14).  He was longsuffering.  He was always kind to those in need.  While Jesus was jealous for the hearts of God’s people, He was never jealous in a self-centred, self-seeking way.  He never rejoiced in unrighteousness.  He always rejoiced to see truth prevailing in the life of another.  He silently bore the failings of others, never even exposing Judas’ betrayal, except to John.  He endured everything He endured for the sake of love; love for His Father and for us.  Now He works by His Spirit to reproduce this same love in us (Galatians 5:22 – 23).  That is the only way 1st Corinthians 13 can be reproduced in our lives.  Love, then, is the natural by-product of a fully surrendered life that is living in the Reign.


Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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