By Pastor Art Kohl
Love is not a feeling, although feelings can be affected by love. Love is not a passion, although passion can be affected by love. Love is not lust. Love is not perversion. Love is not infatuation. Love is not possessiveness. Love is a succession of decisions that lead to proper actions and reactions. The Bible is the authority on love, for it was written by God and God is love (I John 4:8).
Using the word “charity” to explain God’s love, the Bible defines it this way: “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:…” (I Corinthians 13:4-8a)
Let us now see that love is a decision. Sixteen of them, in fact:
“Charity suffereth long,”
Love can suffer. God suffers a long time with us. A person may be called to suffer for a long time with an ill spouse, an imperfect job, a personal health problem, a financial struggle. A person does not bail out of these situations, but suffers through them. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is long-suffering (Galatians 5:22); going forward with patience; quietly waiting on God.
“…and is kind;”
This kindness is more than a reciprocation of kindness to you. God is kind to the unthankful and to the evil (Luke 6:35). He is not just kind to those who are kind to Him.
Love is a decision to be kind when someone takes you for granted or uses you. It is a decision to be a kind person when family, friends, and people in the church and the world become cold and impersonal.
Love builds up people, it does not tear them down (I Corinthians 8:1). Kindness is a powerful building tool.
“…charity envieth not;”
Love is a decision to be satisfied with what you have. This does not mean that we should not try to improve ourselves, position, or circumstances. However, we should be content with what we have (Hebrews 13:5).
A man should be content with his wife and not long for another. A wife should be content with her husband. The secret to contentment is not getting what you want, but wanting what you have.
“…charity vaunteth not itself,”
Love is not about ourselves. It is about others. True love is not narcissistic. “Vaunteth” means “to boast, bray, or brag.” The Scriptures teach that we should let another man praise us and not our own selves (Proverbs 27:2). Love is not about self-promotion but about being a servant.
“…is not puffed up…”
Love is not about pretending. Puffed up people are those who pretend they are something they are not. It literally means “to take a big breath” and walk around with your chest out. Love is not fake or deceptive. It is not flattering. It is genuine sincerity (Philippians 1:10).
“…Doth not behave itself unseemly…”
Unfortunately we live in a day when perversion is called love. God is love and there is nothing improper about Him. Love rejects all forms of perversion (Romans 1:27).
“…seeketh not her own…”
Love is concerned about giving not getting. Love is a life lived for the benefit of others (Philippians 2:7). It is putting on “humbleness of mind” (Colossians 3:12), and being a servant.
“…is not easily provoked…”
Love controls a person’s emotions. People who love will not fly off the handle easily. They will not become angry easily. They will put away all wrath, anger and malice (Ephesians 4:31). Gentleness is always in fashion for a loving person (Psalm 18:35).
“…thinketh no evil…”
The Lord forgives and forgets (Hebrews 8:12). We are to be like Him. We should not have a little black book of offences written down in the recesses of our minds. Love does not bring up the past and throw it in someone’s face. Love does not harbor evil against someone.
“…Rejoiceth not in iniquity…”
Sin is no joke (Proverbs 14:9a). It kills. All mankind dies because of sin. Jesus died because of sin. It is not a laughing matter. As we learn to love God and others we can no longer enjoy that which is our enemy-sinful things. Love changes what we enjoy.
“…but rejoiceth in the truth…”
Love enjoys truth. Jesus is the truth (John 14:6). The Bible is the truth (John 17:17). Love will lead us to gain pleasure from knowledge, wisdom, understanding, spirituality, teaching, preaching, proper music, and the such like.
“…Beareth all things…”
Life has a way of giving us loads we must carry (Galatians 6:5). God puts loads on us to try us and prove us. The devil puts loads on us to try to destroy us. We put loads on ourselves by mistakes or wrong choices we have made. Love carries these loads. Love does not run from problems and trials. Love faces these loads and carries them as far and as long as necessary.
“…Believeth all things…”
Love never loses faith. Love is trust. Every relationship of love will be tried. Humans fail each other. Love will be tested. Our relationship to God will be tried to see how much we really trust in Him (I Peter 1:7). Love produces trust and never loses belief (Galatians 5:6).
Trust Him when dark doubts assail you,
Trust Him when your strength is small,
Trust Him when to simply trust Him,
Seems the hardest thing of all.”
“…hopeth all things…”
Love is not easily overwhelmed or discouraged. The word hope, in the biblical sense, means “expectation.” Love always has an excitement that awaits for God to work on our behalf. We live the life of the overcomer (I John 4:4).
“…endureth all things…”
Love never gives up. Love gives us the character to go through something until it comes to pass. With perfect faith we believe that God allows trials to come into our life for our own good (Romans 8:28). Love endures every trial, circumstance, sickness, or struggle with the goal of becoming a better Christian and finishing the test. Love does not recoil at difficulties. Love does not retreat. Love meets problems head on knowing that true inner strength and beauty come from struggles endured.
“…Charity never faileth…”
Faileth means, “to be driven out of one’s course, to lose your way.” The person who truly loves knows, and never loses sight of the fact that, life is bigger than we are. Proud people cannot see this. Proud people rarely improve. Proud people know nothing of true love, only self love. When people only love themselves, they rarely enjoy life. There is not much to enjoy about ourselves.
When we love others we are able to enjoy something about everyone. When we love God we are able to enjoy God. There can be no limitation to our joy! Self loving people are limited to only loving themselves.
Dr. Jack Hyles once said, “If I live for self, I can only live for one; if I live for others, I can live for the world.”
Keep God and others as the focus of your life.
Love is a life of constantly making the right decisions and turning them into actions. Why not ask God the Holy Spirit to fill you with the love of God? Put that on your prayer list.
“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge…”
Keep learning about love!
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”