What Is Love?

1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.  Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

The Bible describes love not as a feeling, but, first of all, as a person.  God is love.  And love is the motivation behind what He does.  Because God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son to die for us and forgive our sins.  And when we are His own, we love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind, and we love our neighbors as ourselves.  Love, then, becomes our motivation for service to God and others, and those things we do are very empty without love.  It is the fruit of the Spirit, demonstrated by Christ, and in the heart of the Father.

So what is love?  Love is selfless.  True love is willing to be patient, to wait as long as it takes and to endure without waning.  It is kind, not harsh or impatient.  It deals gently.  It is not cruel or hurtful.  It takes others into account.  It is not full of jealousy, but seeks someone else’s good first, not its own.  And it is truly humble, lacking pride.  It does not boast or brag or seek glory for itself, but the one it strives to honor.

Love is sanctified.  It always acts properly and decently.  It is generous and willing to give.  It wants nothing for itself, but for others to benefit.  It demonstrates self-control, without responding reactively to things.  It does not intend harm, but intends good things from a pure heart and a pure mind, pure motives and pure actions.  Love is sinless.  It is opposed to sin and unrighteousness and evil.  It does not support or approve of sin.  It wants no part of that contaminating presence that infects the purity of love.  And it stands on God’s holy truth, holding fast to those things that God says, upholding all that is right and good.

Love is strong.  It bears whatever is necessary, willing to take the injury or the loss, to make a sacrifice, to bear a burden.  And it takes all these things without retaliation.  It is undergirded by a strong faith not weakened by doubt.  It is hopeful and sure of the promises of God.  And it is faithful to the end, persevering even when things get tough.  Love is steadfast.  It never fails.  It never runs out.  It remains no matter what else fades.  So love can always be a part of what we do.  We can be the vessels that it pours out of into a lost and hurting world.  And because of love, we can make a real and lasting difference in our service for the Lord.