I've been noticing all the commercials over the past few weeks advertising the perfect gift for your Valentine. Most of them are telling us that it takes diamonds or some kind of jewelry to win the affections of a woman's heart. Ok, so women are built for romance. We want to be that special someone, but so many times a man thinks that this is all it takes in order to skip right to the basic fundamentals of a relationship. Men are programmed for the hands on sex, and love doesn't have to be a priority. But this isn't love in the least. How do we know what love is? And better yet, what love isn't?
The vocabulary of a Christian is quite strange to someone who doesn't know Christ in their life. It's rather hard to be bouncing around in the world with no guidance. Instructions for everything are meant to make things easier for us by avoiding unnecessary mistakes. Life without knowing what God has intended for His children is like bouncing off one wall and into another with no direction. How long can we keep this up? No one can deny that we value education and hope that our own children will also desire to have one. There is power in it. But why, is it when it comes to God's instructions for living a successful life, we tune Him out? Really, be honest, how can we expect to know more than the One Who created us? It's not possible. . . bottom line. In His Book of “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth" better known as the Bible, we can know exactly what love is and what love isn't. How can you tell if you are truly in love or even better, if your partner truly loves you? Wouldn't you want something in which to compare it to? Is love in the kiss? No. Is it in the way someone looks at you? No. Is it in the way they act towards you? Perhaps, but not necessarily. Let's take a look at some of the ways we can know what love is and what it definitely is not.
Paul the apostle writes about what love is and what it is not in his first letter to the Corinthians. Paul addressed the church at Corinth with the hopes of trying to break them away from their carnality and immaturity. They were worldly and didn't want to give up the world around them. They couldn't break away from their old habits of selfishness, immorality and pagan worship. Paul found it necessary to write to them and correct this as well as remind them of their faithfulness to Christ. He had to make it known to them that as Christians, they had to break off outside relationships with disobedient and unrepentant members. Not only that, but to put these people out of the church! We would never expose ourselves to this kind of behavior today. But this is precisely why we need to know the true facts. We aren't hurting people if they aren't followers of Christ, but we are hurting ourselves and our love walk with Him by compromising. Love for Jesus should not be made subjective, but rather, objective. We can not compromise our love for Christ by subjecting ourselves to hearing and doing the wrong doctrine. He is our main objective in this love walk, it's not how much respect and popularity we win from others that matters. It's what we do for Him that counts. In our true Christian love walk, our actions will reflect Him and this is what others will come to recognize as true love. It certainly does extend into our marriages, our families, and to everyone around us. Our love can not be bought, but rather it can and should be given away freely, with no strings attatched. If you are expecting something in return for your love or visa versa, it could be time to examine this relationship. This is not the kind of love that God designed for us.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians about all their good deeds, but if they had the wrong motives, it was not love.
"If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging symbol. " 1 Corinthians 13:1
Paul went on to say that even if he had the gift of prophecy and knew all the mysteries and had all the knowledge in the world and even the faith to move mountains but didn't have love, he was nothing. If he gave everything that he owned and fed the poor and volunteered to be murdered, if he didn't have love it would still be for nothing. The Corinthians were puffed up in arrogance and pride and it plagued the church. We should not strive to have the gifts of prophecy or speaking in tongues just to make ourselves look spiritual, rather like the Corinthians we should be concerned with having love, love for one another.
So exactly what then is love? Or better yet, what isn't love? Paul tells us these answers when he continues in the 4th verse of the 13th chapter. Do we honestly understand what real love is in our own lives?
Here is what love is:
Love is. . . patient and kind. How can we say we love someone if we get easily frustrated and treat them with disrespect?
Love is. . . rejoicing in the truth. Is it possible to love someone and deliberately lie to them?
Love is. . .bearing all things. That means putting up with eachother's faults. No one is perfect.
Love is. . .believing all things. It doesn't mean we have doubt about someone. We should be able to take what someone says at face value. It is trust.
Love is. . . hopeful in all things. It's knowing that everything will work out for the best.
Love is. . . enduring. That means it puts up with the little things that drive us crazy.
Love is. . . never failing. Love is real when it can stand up to all these things. It looks for the best in others and brings these things out.
And here is how we know it isn't love:
Love is not. . . bragging or arrogant. We should never puff ourselves up or put someone else down.
Love is not. . . acting unbecomingly. It isn't embarassing someone or treating them wrong in any way.
Love is not. . . seeking its own. You don't have to draw attention to yourself to find love.
Love is not. . . provoked. If you are threatened by anyone for any reason, it's not love.
Love is not. . . a score keeper. No one should ever keep an account of things that were done wrong in order to be used against someone else one day. Forgiveness is a virtue.
Love is not. . . happy with anything that is not righteous. God's love is righteous and He made us to be like Him.
Love is having an attitude of loving what God loves and hating what God hates. How can you say you love God and hate someone? His Word says this is not possible. He calls that person a liar. Or how can you tell a person you love them and don't know God? In order to know what love is, we need to know The Person Who created it. Love by our own standards will not stand up to the tests of time. Love in human terms is abstract. It has no foundation except what is pleasing to our mind, our will and our emotions. Our body and our soul can and will lie to us unless we seek spiritual truth according to God's Word. Love on God's terms is not abstraction, but an action. We put it into motion. True love is glorifying Christ. We are to love others the same way He loves us.
Now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
Vivian Gordon writes articles pertaining to God's instructions and the examples He has given us in order to grow on this Christian walk with Him. She hopes that they can inspire the Christian to grow spiritualy and maturely in their lives.