Life-giving love is better than a fake smile pasted over a deeper resentment. Love is more than a kind word that hides a jealous, bitter heart. We need a love like Jesus! One that is real and healing and life-giving.
“[Love] does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil.” (1 Corinthians 13:5, NKJV)
1. Love refuses to act in a way that demeans, disrespects, or demoralizes the other.
Life-giving love isn’t “rude” (aschēmonei). Think about how Jesus related to Zaccheus (Luke 19). Here was a man who had disregarded God’s laws and sought what would benefit himself at the expense of others. Jesus didn’t smile at Zaccheus, while thinking to Himself, “What a jerk.” He didn’t demean the man; He sought to bless the man.
The love that God demands from us refuses to behave in a way that brings disrepute and dishonor to God Himself. When we relate to other people, our conduct is a reflection on God’s character. If we behave in a manner that is outside the pattern of His character, then we have failed to love others in the way that God demands. So, “rude” is out of the question in our relationships.
2. Love elevates the needs of the other.
Life-giving love doesn’t “seek its own” (zētei ta heautēs). Love encourages others and seeks the good for others rather than the fulfillment of personal rights or freedoms. Life-giving love that builds healthy relationships isn’t “self-seeking.” Loving like God has loved us means that we seek what’s beneficial for others, not ourselves.
3. Love has a long fuse, refusing to become irritable over the actions of the other.
Life-giving love isn’t “irritable” (paroxunetai). We all have a tendency to become quickly dismayed and angered over someone’s behavior. Paul shows us that the love God demands from His followers has a long fuse. It is not quickly or easily provoked into anger.
4. Love has a short memory, refusing to keep a ledger of wrongs done to us by the other.
Life-giving love “thinks no evil” (logizetai to kakon). Paul paints a picture that looks like a ledger sheet. It is the description of putting the record of a wrong done to the credit of one who is doing us wrong. Just as God’s love “removes our transgressions as far as the east is from the west” (Ps 103:12), our love does the same. Because we love others the way God loves us, we don’t store up the wrongs done to us and bring the charge to someone later.
But how can we love others like that?
“According to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16–19, ESV)
I pray that you and I might be captured by the love of Jesus so that His love sinks its roots deep into our hearts and nourishes our soul. When His love grasps our hearts, we will be equipped to love others with His life-giving love.
Stop. Take a breath. And pray:
“Father, nourish my soul today with Your love so that I can love others the way that You have loved me.”