Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.
Several of my friends’ lives are changing in similar ways this year. As our senior year at college is coming to a close, they have found those young ladies that have greatly increased the quality of life they have because the ladies bring something unique to their lives that may have been missing and my friends either knew it was missing or they didn’t know until those ladies came into their lives in this way. And I am sure it is the same for the ladies as well–they found that each of my friends have a unique quality that they find brings another welcome dimension into their lives that help them each to grow in their relationship with God and with them. Of course, I can’t speak as to what that is, since they haven’t confided in me about it nor do I expect them to. All I can do is assume and know that the way God created relationships, especially between that of a man and woman, that it is meant to complement each of them. Since I have not been in a relationship for close to 10 years, I can’t speak advice to them on this, but a good foundation for any relationship would be how Paul describes love, not just in the romantic sense, but in every kind of relationship we have-family, friends, spouses, boyfriends, and girlfriends. Paul lists three things that are necessary for a follower of Christ to have-Hope, Faith, and Love. But he says love is the greatest of these.
So let’s break down what Paul says about love.
Love forgives. It’s as simple as that. Resentment in a relationship can be poisonous to it. When someone wrongs you, it hurts yes and may shake your faith in that person and you may find it harder to trust that person. But it is no reason to withhold forgiveness from that person. Proverbs 10:12 says this about love and hate:
“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.”
Proverbs 17:9 has this to say about it as well:
“Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.”
Paul writes elsewhere that he wishes all believers to live at peace with everyone. Hatred in any kind of a relationship does nothing but destroy. But when out of love, someone forgives another that relationship can heal. It may never be the same but it can heal and continue to grow. Forgiveness also carries with it a matter of resting. Not an a matter of sleeping, but more of in a matter of let the past remain where it is–in the past. A better way to put it is let sleeping dogs lie. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, but it means that the matter is no longer an issue in the person’s life who is doing the forgiving. As Jesus said: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” No matter what, we are to forgive. Love requires this.
Love is patient through everything. We are at different stages in our lives and at different levels of growth–both intellectually and physically. We may not have the same knowledge or strength in life as everyone else in our life. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:14 and Romans 15:1–
“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted,help the weak. be patient with them all.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” (Romans 15:1)
Patience is required of those who tend to be doing better than others. Just because you may be stronger (in faith or physical) does not mean we can leave those who aren’t behind. Especially in those relationships closest to us. Paul makes it an obligation that we are to help them come to the same understanding that we have of the faith, so that their faith may grow stronger. And in so doing, being patient with them as they make mistakes in their walks. No one is guiltless in this-most of all ourselves. We have to be patient with those who we are helping when they fall. And this brings us to the next quality of genuine biblical love.
Do not think yourselves better than anyone. Pride suits only to serve yourself and no one else. It brings attention, including your own, to yourself. Holding things over other people in our relationships does nothing but make the other person want to get away from you. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:6–
“I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.”
And then again in 4:18–
“Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you.”
Paul in saying that some were arrogant as though he wasn’t coming puts himself in a position of saying that these people were prideful and holding it over others as if there wasn’t anyone better than them, and that he would correct them in that notion. This isn’t to say that we should take it upon ourselves to be the ones doing the correcting, but serves as a reminder that Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace knew all too well–there’s always a bigger fish. I will close upon this quality with Proverbs 16:18–
“Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
This is perhaps the most important. Paul writes that love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Honesty in any kind of relationship is so important that to withhold anything could be detrimental to the relationship. By withholding something important, it can affect your attitude towards the person you are withholding it from. Honest love holds nothing in secret from the other, and if one is holding back something that can horribly affect the relationship, then that person is guilty of lying to the other when pressed on the matter. 2 John 4 says this:
“I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.”
Being honest brings joy and happiness to all because nothing is held back from one another and when brought to the attention of the other, can serve to strengthen and grow the friendship even further.
Love is simply not held to these simple yet important qualities. It has so much more. In my studies on this passage and experiences in my own life however, these are the most important to focus upon from me.