Happy Valentine’s Day!!! I hope love is in the air for you today!
Although we are not exactly sure when Valentine’s Day started, it has long been celebrated for hundreds of years. Do you remember the first time you received a Valentine? To be honest, I can’t remember exactly, but I do know I was introduced to the holiday in grade school.
We all went out and bought those cheesy little Valentine’s Day cards that you could attach a piece of candy to and proudly passed them out to everyone in our class. Or sometimes we would hit the motherload when someone’s mom would bake cupcakes and send them to school!
As I got older, however, and entered that awkward teenage stage, those with boyfriends were the only ones that received something on this special day. It was then I learned that love could be selective (or what I thought love was).
Not until I met my husband did I realize what true love was – a feeling between two people that was wrapped in commitment. See if you stop at love being just a feeling, then you’ve missed the point. Love is more than a feeling, it is a long-term commitment and it requires a little work.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is probably one of the most celebrated passages of the Bible when speaking of love. We have these words read at Christian weddings. These verses are displayed on plaques we place on the walls of our home. But do we, have we, taken the time to really let the words contained in those verses speak to us? Since the divorce rate among Christians is as high as among non-Christians, we would do well to review those lines again.
Today, I am going to use the Amplified Bible translation because I like the expanded language of the verses. Now if you are a strict King James version or New Living Translation user, don’t worry! The Amplified version only provides a little more context to what is already expressed in scripture. It helps simple-minded folks like me really wrap my brain around the meaning of some scriptures.
So here we go!
Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening]. Love never fails [it never fades nor ends]. 1 Cor. 13:4-8
Let’s break that down a little, shall we? As we do, remember, this passage is not just about romantic love, but about loving others in general. (That stings a little, doesn’t it?)
Love endures with patience and serenity. In our fast-paced, instant access world, when was the last time you exercised patience? I know for me, the older I get, the less I have! But not only does love tolerate even the most difficult of circumstances without getting emotional (patience), love also expresses a state of peace about it (serenity). (Ouch!)
Love is kind and thoughtful. I think most of us would agree with this one and say that when we think of love, this is what we think about. But hold on tight – we have 13 more characteristics to go!
It is not jealous or envious. Aren’t these the same? That’s what I have always thought to, but when looking at their definitions, there is a slight difference. Jealous occurs when another person is involved. We get jealous when someone is shown more affection than us and we feel ‘replaced’ by the person receiving the affection. But envy is really more about possessions. We simply want whatever it is someone else has, like a house, car, or jewelry. See the difference? It takes true love to feel completely secure in these areas.
Loves does not brag. Somehow, I have never put these two together as opposites, but I do understand. It is one thing to express excitement over something great your kid did, but it is another to turn it into a competition with someone else’s kid. Bragging always implies an underlying competition and love does not compete against another. In fact, it cheers the other person on!
It is not proud or arrogant. AMEN to this one, right? Proud people have an inflated sense of self-worth, while arrogant people try to outwit everyone with their knowledge in an attempt to make themselves feel more dominant. Who in the world wants to be around those types of people? No one, that’s who!
It is not rude. We often say a person is impolite when they are being rude, but it can also be someone who is abusive, blunt, boorish, crude, or obscene. Regardless of the behavior, it simply shows that the person has no regard for the person or persons around them. NO THANKS!
It is not self-seeking. The line between serving others and being self-seeking is such a fine one. Do you like (or in this discussion, love) a person for who they are or for what they can do for you?
It is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]. So, for people like me, this one is tough. It has taken years to get all my emotions in check, and a few of them still need a little more work! It’s hard to sit back and not react, isn’t it? But every day, if we are going to love others, we have to practice emotional restraint. The only person we can control is us!
It does not take into account a wrong endured. Oooooo….my! I realize for some folks this is extremely hard, because the wrong you have endured was a nightmare. But some of us can get caught up on the stupidest stuff, and we need to stop. Regardless of the wrong endured – work it through. Not for the person who wronged you, but for yourself!!! You’ll thank yourself later.
It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. In this political age, this one is tricky. Most good people hate to see injustice, but what is your benchmark for justice? Let me just say this, if we are calling ourselves Christians, we better be seeking the truth in God’s word and not the newspapers. Today, the truth of God’s word is being turned around and labeled injustice. We need to know the difference. (Rant done!)
Love bears all things [regardless of what comes]. If ever commitment is required, it is when one person attempts to love another regardless of future issues. It is absolutely true that love can conquer all, but it can only occur when both parties are fighting for the relationship. It is inspiring to see couples regain their marriage after one has cheated on the other, but it took commitment and a LOT of work on both of their parts to get there! A plea: If you are in an abusive relationship, whether physical, emotional, or sexual –please get out! God never intended for you to stay in that type of relationship!! It is not love!
It believes all things [looking for the best in each one]. Let me just say, after being married for almost 24 years, if you don’t get up each day and look for the best in your spouse (or your kids and other relationships), you can easily pick them apart. Thank goodness, my husband seems to have the ability to do this automatically because there are days I can get off course and he always brings me back! Love is positive not negative.
It hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times]. Easily said, not always easily done. Somehow, however, during difficult times, we tend to turn to love more easily. We long for it. I think of the tremendous amount of love shown for 9/11 victims and their families not only in this country, but from all over the world. If we could muster that type of love for each other in times like the 9/11 aftermath, we can have hope that it can be done even in the day to day difficulties we struggle through. Let’s determine within ourselves, we will make it happen!
It endures all things [without weakening]. Listen, I think when we feel certain emotions we feel that somehow our resolve has weakened. Like when we grieve the loss of a loved one a little longer than some people believe should be necessary. No, we are not weak for grieving – we love that person still. There is nothing weak about love.
Love never fails [it never fades nor ends]. Oh, that we could wrap our human minds around this one. Some of us have been extremely blessed to have found this type of love. But even if you haven’t, there is someone who can show it to you! His name is Jesus, and His love NEVER fails!!! It has been in existence before we came to be and it will be in existence for all eternity. My friend, He is faithful! He IS love!
Well, there are your 15 signs of true love. How many do you receive in a day? How many do you express yourself to someone else?
I hope you feel inspired today! If you need to work on one of the fifteen characteristics of true love, do it. You will never regret erring on the side of love. We were created because of and for love. Be the love you are longing for and watch how life changes!