By Milton Harris
Besides being my birthday month (lol), February is also known for being the "love month". With Valentines Day right around the corner and keeping up with the spirit of love, the DTM team would like to take this month to talk to you all about love....Gods way. However, before we can learn about how to love, who to love, or what to love, we must first learn what real love is. I think a lot of us use the term love too loosely. We often say things like I love that food, I love that person, I love this, I love that, but I question if we truly know what love is. I think that we are confusing our strong likes for love. We say with our mouths how much we love but we don't practice love in our actions. So, before we go any further with this theme of love this month lets look at what the bible has to say about what love is and what it is not.
In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, the bible tells us that Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Here the Apostle Paul lays out for us seven key components of what love is and what it is not.
The first components of love is that it is patient and kind. We live in a society where we are very impatient with others and their shortcomings. How many times have we all seen someone lay on their horn at a traffic light because the person in front of them didn't take off as soon as the light turned green. Or how many of us have ever popped off on someone who said or did something to us that we didn't like. Making the choice to embody love is also accepting the task to be patient and kind to others. Kindness is patience in action. This component prevents a lot of people from experiencing real love because we are the exact opposite of kind. We don't speak to people when they walk by, and most of the time we act like we can't even crack a smile. We will walk down the street or into new environments mean mugging, wishing that somebody would do or say something that we don't like, so we can exercise just how unkind and impatient we can be. Imagine if Christ was as impatient and unkind with us, as we are with others.
The second component is that love is not jealous of what other people have. A person that puts on love daily is able to applaud others for their successes. It is not boastful, proud, or rude. Real love doesn't feel the need to brag about the stuff it has, only for the purpose of making others feel jealous. Have you ever met someone who always talk about all the stuff they have? They go on and on about things even when no one asked them about it. In this component we learn that love does not needlessly offend, and dress it up as just "being real". Love is not rude.
The third component is love does not demand it's own way. Love is not selfish, but rather self-sacrificing. It is not all about you!
The fourth component of love is that it is not irritable. Do you know anyone that you feel like you have to walk on eggshells with when you are around them? They are easily offended and they often use their temper to intimidate and to punish. Are you this type of person? If so, remember, when you are angry, usually you're not loving.
The fifth component of love is that it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. Have you ever gotten into a dispute with someone and all of a sudden they turned into an historian? They effortlessly recall all of your past faults as if they had them written down somewhere, and looks to use them against you to gain the upper hand. Tallying wrongs and holding a grudge until everyone is paid back is not love. Love forgives.
The six component of love is that it is never glad about injustices, but rejoices whenever the truth prevails. Love is never happy when things go wrong for others. If someone you do not like falls to sin, you should not celebrate. You should grieve because God grieves for our sin. Real love rejoices if they repent.
The seventh and final component of love is that it endures. Love doesn't come and go based upon the circumstances. Love is completely committed even when things are not going well. So many marriages, friendships, and family relationships are lost because people do not get the fact that love endures through the best of times as well as the worst of times. Love knows how to love people as the sinner instead of the saint.
Now that we know what love is and what it is not, I would like to end by saying that love doesn't just happen. Real love only comes about when we make it our priority to love according to standards that God has laid out for us. Love defined by the world is not the same as how God has commanded us to love. The Bible is the only true source we have to define what real love is and does.