True love is full of promises and hopes. Every human being on this planet is seeking love – the kind that completes and nurtures. A love that will last and allow us to grow. And this time of year, so many people are watching Christmas movies and believing that that is true love – that the fantasies placed before them are what they really need and want. That those types of relationship will satisfy. I’ve watched those movies and they leave me singularly dissatisfied with the message they convey and the deception they perpetuate. The truth is, while true love is romantic, romance is not true love.
Confession time! I need to learn to love – no, scratch that. Anyone can learn to act like they love – just watch the aforementioned movies! I need to love. I need the love that God has for us to be made abundant in my heart so that I can truly love others. “A person can give without loving, but cannot love without giving.” (Adrian Rogers, I think?)
So today, a quick study on just what love really entails. For that, I am wading into 1 Corinthians 13.
Love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit; evidence of His presence in your life, not to be confused with a gift of the Spirit which is spoken of in Ephesian. As a fruit, love is produced through the hard work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and is not something we can produce in ourselves by ourselves. Our job is to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He works in and through us, planting seeds of love, watering them, pruning us, and producing a harvest. NOTE: don’t confuse perfect love with the lust that the media (in all forms) pushes upon unsuspecting souls as love. If you do, you’ll be chasing down a blind alley that leads to destruction.
The kind of love that God exhibits toward us and that the Holy Spirit produces in us is:
- Patient. That means that true love puts up with the weaknesses and faults of others without condemnation. We are weak, ignorant, wicked and malicious at times. True love looks past those faults and encourages us to press on toward higher ground.
- Kind. Under any and all provocation, true love is tender, affectionate, good-natured, gentle and mild. It is not harsh or critical, judgmental or bitter.
- Not envious. Meaning, not jealous of anyone else—not jealous of their successes, their education, their wealth, their happiness, their good health, their fame, etc. True love delights in the successes and happiness of others.
- Does not EXALT itself. We will never see someone who truly loves using their gifts and talents in a way that makes them the center of attention or glorifies themselves.
- Is not proud. People who truly love are not conceited and superior. They do not display an air of superiority or use their position to subjugate others.
- Not unseemly. A person who truly loves will not behave improperly or disgracefully towards the object of that love, nor will they act in a way that brings reproach upon the beloved.
- Seeks not its own. UNSELFISH. Someone who truly loves does not seek their own happiness over the happiness of others or to the injury of others. True love seeks the best welfare of others, even if it requires self-denial, sacrifice and personal effort.
- Not easily provoked. The essence of true love is acceptance. Remember the red flag waving at a bull? The bull immediately charges. Well, if we truly love, we will not charge. We will not become indignant, angry, irritated, vengeful or wrathful.
- Does not think evil. Again, we are thinking in terms of others. So true love believes in the best possible interpretation of others’ motives and actions and does not immediately incline to finding fault of assuming evil intentions in the actions of others.
- Does not rejoice in sin. When someone around us falls into sin or adversity, those who truly love will be genuinely sorrowful for them. True love is not pleased when evil triumphs, whether in a friend or an enemy.
- Rejoices in TRUTH. Love looks at others with genuine compassion and feels sorrow and grief at their losses, but also feels great joy and rejoices at their gains, whether personal, financial, professional or spiritual.
- Bears all things. We’re not talking about letting evil trounce all over us. To ‘bear’ something in this context is to cover it, or hide it. The Scripture is talking about not exposing the faults and imperfections of others but instead, to conceal or not talk about them. It is the responsibility of everyone who truly loves to encourage, exhort and pray for others and NOT to gossip about them.
- Believes all things. Once again, this doesn’t mean that one who loves is gullible. Rather, the one who loves believes that others’ motivations are generally good and not intended to deliberately harm. When others prove otherwise, the one who loves is genuinely grieved FOR THEM.
- Hopes all things. Once again, no matter how dark or evil the conduct of others, this true love hopes that it can be explained and the issues disappear as understanding and fellowship are restored.
- ENDURES all things. To endure all things means to remain uncomplaining at the treatment we receive from others. We possess our souls in a patient and gentle spirit throughout persecution. A great example of this is found in Job 13:15 “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.”
- Love NEVER FAILS. All of the gifts of the Holy Spirit will vanish in eternity. Love, a work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, will go with us into eternity. It is permanent, valuable, adaptable and always available.
LOVE is a fruit produced in believers by the cultivation work of the Holy Spirit. It is sown, watered, weeded, pruned, and harvested by the Holy Spirit. If we want to bear more fruit, we must cooperate with the pruning work of the Holy Spirit.
So that’s my goal today. A little more cooperation, a little less “what about me?” How about you?