Tina Turner’s song in the 80’s entitled “What’s Love Got to Do with it” is a cynical expression of love that defines it as a “second hand emotion”. In our culture, we throw the word “love” around all the time and we truly don’t understand its meaning. I love pizza. I love my dog. I love the Broncos. I love my wife. I love to read! I love rock ‘n’ roll! You fill in the blank….
What is the Biblical definition of love?
Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
This is the most comprehensive treatment in the entire Bible on the true definition of Christian love and from this passage we see FIFTEEN aspects or descriptions of love. (Don’t worry, we won’t cover all of them today!)
In our English translations, we don’t get the full force of the original language. In the Greek text, these are present tense verbs. Which means that they are concrete actions that are to be practiced in a continual, lifestyle of obedience to Christ. In other words, they are not sentimental, mushy feelings that are based on our emotions, but actions that need to be expressed in practical ways.
Let’s begin to explore these:
1. Love PRACTICES PATIENCE
This word literally means “long-suffering” and almost always denotes patience with people rather than with circumstances or events.
I struggle with patience. I get irritated when standing in line or when driving or when someone doesn’t do things in a fast manner. And really this stems from pride. In my mind, I think I can do things better than others and that I DESERVE fast treatment and that somehow I am entitled to have things my way. Practicing patience is a hard blow to pride because we feel that we deserve better.
When we think of patience, we need to immediately think of God Himself.
In the Old Testament, there was the famous “credo” or “confession” of faith. It was first revealed by God Himself to Moses on the mountain and later used by many writers to encapsulate God’s very character. This was the John 3:16 of the Old Testament.
Read Exodus 34:6 and Psalm 86:15
The greatest example of patience is the Lord. If God was not slow to anger and was impatient with us, how could we live?
2. Love practices KINDNESS
Again, this doesn’t mean to feel kind, but to actually demonstrates kindness in concrete action. It desires the welfare of others. It not only feels generous, but acts generously for others.
The perfect example of kindness again is the Lord Himself.
Read Romans 2:4
If we are honest, the first test for practicing these virtues of love is in the home or among those we are the closest.
Again, this is more than just having kind feelings toward each other. It is actually DOING kind and helpful things for each other to the point of self-sacrificing love.
3. Love does not ENVY
Envy has two forms:
- I want what someone else has
- I wish they didn’t have what they have and I desire evil for them.
Read Proverbs 27:4 and James 3:14-16
4. Love does not BOAST or BRAG
Boasting makes much of us, instead of making much of Christ. Again, Christ is the ultimate example of humility.
5. Love is not ARROGANT
There may be a subtle difference between boasting and arrogance. I think boasting is more bragging about your accomplishments and always talking about yourself, while arrogance is an attitude of smugness and superiority where you look down on others.
Read Proverbs 8:13 and 11:2 and 16:18
John MacArthur says this: “Arrogance is big-headed, love is big-hearted!”
Which one of these on the list so far do you struggle with the most? Which one do you need to grow in? Spend some time in prayer asking the Lord to grow this love in you.
Father in heaven,
I know that You are love and that you have called me to love with this sacrificial, intentional type of love that is more than just a feeling, but action. I need patience! I want to practice kindness! Help me not envy others or boast and brag and be arrogant about my accomplishments. I know that pride goes before a fall. I desperately need your grace to produce this kind of love in my life and help me to express it today in very practical ways. Amen