Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)
Love. We long for it. We pray for it. We even fast for it. Many of us search for the meaning of love in the millions of poems, novels, films, and songs created throughout time about love. We test relationship after relationship – yet find it elusive. Some believe love is found in purity; others in lust. The world goes through great lengths to convince us we’re supposed to have it, and as a result, we often feel “less-than” when we believe that we don’t.
What is it about love that has us waxing lyrically at times, and giddy and light-headed at other times? Do we really even know what love is?
ALL ABOUT LOVE
Here’s some of what we know about love, from the famous verses of scripture in 1 Corinthians 13:4-13:
- Love requires patience and kindness.
- Love requires truth and honesty.
- Love is an indicator of maturity.
- Love is for the long haul.
- Love respects.
- Love endures.
But do we know the difference between love, infatuation, and lust? Do we really know what it takes to truly love and are we ready for it?
Here are 7 characteristics and principles of love, and some of God’s requirements for igniting and manifesting love in your life:
1. Love may not look like “your list.” No matter how great things look on paper, it may not be the situation God has for you. Fame and celebrity, sex appeal, monetary worth, educational achievement, social status, skin tone, hair texture, race, country of origin, political party, sports team, zodiac sign…none of the things that our society holds in high regard as tools for finding or defining love can actually determine or dictate how to (1 John 2:15-16). So the first thing you probably have to do is delete from your mind all the mental images and sounds of everything society has created to represent love.
2. Love requires purity. There’s a reason for consecration, holy living, virginity, fasting and abstinence. A pure heart, mind, and body allows us to best hear God, and to experience His full, true love (Matthew 5:8, 1 Peter 1:22). Without these, we end up in painful situations or relationships which could have been avoided, and tied to people we probably should have simply passed by (see #6). Fast; ask God to create in you a clean, pure heart (Psalm 51:10). Pray; open your heart, seek God’s will for your life daily. That way, when God speaks, and plants that perfect situation in your life, you’ll know.
3. Love isn’t seasonal. It isn’t “here today, gone tomorrow.” Love isn’t lukewarm. It’s not something you do “on the way past.” You can’t “fall out of love” if you’ve ever truly loved at all. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. Love is actually the thing that keeps you present and “in the game,” because love requires consistency (Ephesians 4:2). Love, like God, is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8).
4. Love cannot be bought or sold. In Matthew 6:24 (NIV), Jesus tells his disciples that “you cannot serve both God and money.” And if God is love (1 John 4:8), and God can’t be bought or sold (Acts 8:20), then money has no bearing on love either!
5. Love is not lust. Lust is uncontrolled physical or sexual desire. It’s one of those emotional states God categorizes under “the flesh”(1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, Romans 13:13-15). So if you think about it, if lust is present, it’s actually an indicator that love is not! That Commandment which talks about not “committing adultery” or “coveting the spouses of others.” This means that guy, gal, or material possession you’re lusting for may be the one God meant for someone else. Lust brings trouble to your soul, while keeping love from finding you; whereas, love requires discipline and maturity (1 Corinthians 13:11). As Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake says, “Put priority on spiritual and emotional excellence, not just on physical and erotic attractiveness.” Yes, lust is an indicator of desire or physical attraction. But Love is an indicator of spiritual connection. Don’t get it twisted.
6. Love is understanding. “It’s not about you!” as Pastor Rick Warren says. Sometimes, God pairs us with people or situations that require our growth through love, and those situations may sometimes be difficult (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). “Love” is not “like.” You can love someone without liking their actions. But love means wanting God’s best for them; love means honoring their right to exist. So you can’t be loving and be selfish, controlling, jealous, quick-tempered, scheming, petty, or racist. Love doesn’t cause pain to others. You either love, or you don’t.
So…what is love? Seems it’s been inside of us all along.
7. Love is to be the best that God created us to be. When God gave us life, He gave us love (Romans 8:30). When God gave us Jesus, He gave us a physical manifestation of His love; an example of salvation, grace, mercy, and excellence for us to follow for how to be our best, what our possibilities are, and how to live our best life (Philippians 4:13). As human beings, we are designed for love, to love; and by God, with love (Genesis 1:26-28). He gave us instructions on what love is, how to attract it, how to maintain it, how to be it. Most importantly, love is your most important duty during your time on earth. It is to use our gifts and talents to edify others, and to make the world a better place. Love is the secret to life!
Verse 8 of 1 Corinthians 13 says that love never fails. Why? Because God is love, and love transcends all things.
As you can see, it’s up to us to activate within ourselves the love that God has already provided for us. Love is our spirit. Without love, there is no purpose, no trust, no liberty, no justice, no peace, no truth (Revelation 22:12-15). Without love, there is no life! Like a rose that opens petal by petal, love creates layer upon layer of possibilities; in its manifestation are the promises of increase.
So go, follow God’s will for your life; manifest love today. And who knows? Maybe He’ll send you someone special to share your love with!
SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES – 1 Corinthians 13:4-13, 15:3-4; 1 John 2:15, 3:3, 4:8; 1 Peter 1:13-22, 2:11; 1 Timothy 1:5, 2 Timothy 2:22, Psalm 51:10, Ephesians 4:2, Hebrews 13:8, Matthew 5:8, 6:24; Acts 8:20, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, Romans 13:13-15, Exodus 20:14, 17; Romans 8:30, Philippians 4:13, Genesis 1:26-28, Revelation 3:16, 22:12-15.
*Want more on love? CLICK HERE to read highlights from Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake’s sermon on Love and Marriage, “Invite Jesus to Your Wedding and Into Your Marriage” on Westa.org. Hear the entire sermon and more on West Angeles Gospel on Demand.