“…or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:5
How does my Christian life measure against these characteristics of true love? When we begin to understand that love only loves when it acts and that it is not just based upon how we feel, then we can start to apply it and see the impact it has in our lives as believers. Jesus Christ is that picture of love lived out beautifully and in absolute perfection. Love demands something of us and is rare in our world today and, sadly, in the church as well.
This text brought me to my knees in humble repentance many times as I was convicted of my lack of love for those the Lord has placed in my life. How many times do I find myself acting unbecomingly? Selfishly? Being irritated or harboring resentment?
Far more than I would care to admit to you, but I am thankful the Lord reminds me I don't have to manufacture this love – I just need to share what I have already been given by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). God has taught us how to love (1 Thess. 4:9). So everything we do as a believer should be done in love (1 Cor. 16:14). Our lack of love for God and others is behind all our disobedience to the commands of the Lord.
Love is not rude
Do I care enough about those around me to act becomingly? Love is gracious and considerate of others. This would apply to manners – that our behavior in all circumstances and situations would be appropriate. Love begins in our own homes with our husbands and children.
Acting unbecomingly is not very attractive to the unbelieving world. If my actions are inconsiderate and unloving, how does this display the Gospel to the lost world around me? May we show the gentleness of Christ to those around us, and may our speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, so we know how to respond to each person (Colossians 4:6).
Love is not selfish
Jonathan Edwards refers to the Christian heart as enlarged instead of contracted. He describes a Christian as either being big-hearted or small-hearted. Someone with a selfish spirit is going to make much of the misery and issues they are dealing with as if no one else has any problems. They are not going to see the needs around them or care much of what others are going through.
Someone who has a charitable spirit will notice the needs of those around him and be concerned as if he were dealing with those difficulties. Their focus is the good of their neighbor; how to build their neighbor up.
The NKJV translates this part of the text as “does not seek its own.” The problem with our fallen human nature is that we want to have our way.
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Adam and Eve wanted their own way, and it is no different today – self-replaces God. Love looks to the interests of others and puts others above itself (Philippians 2:4). Christ is our perfect example of what unselfish love should look like. He looked to our interests and put our needs above His own. He paid the full penalty for our sin knowing full well that we would not or could not ever repay Him. It was selfless and sacrificial. It didn't seek its own way.
Ponder how Christ has loved you and commit to loving others unselfishly. Pray and ask the Lord to show you where you have been selfish in showing love within your home, church, and community.
“Love is our best defense against sin. The more we love God and our neighbor the less selfish (sinful) we will be. God's remedy for sin is our love for Him. ” ~ The Sin of Selfishness
Love is not angry
Being angry and not sinning, having a righteous anger, is when we are angered by the things that anger God (Matthew 21:11-12). This is not what we are addressing here, but instead, anger that is sinful and lashes out from lack of self-control; it is anger that we let the sun go down on. True love guards against being upset or irritated. “It is not provoked,” it doesn't get angry at others when we don't get our way or when they say hurtful things to us or about us.
When we tell our spouse or children, we love them and then continually lash out in anger and get upset with them, our profession of love to them isn't going to be too convincing. When we do not correctly love others as God has called us, we lose our temper and can cause hurt and damage that can be very destructive.
Anger still comes back to selfishness. We get angry because things didn't go our way. If we are insistent on having our own way we will be easily provoked and angered. We need to remember God's Sovereign control in our lives. Everything has been allowed for a purpose to mold and shape us more into the image of Christ. Our anger about challenging situations or people is anger at God in opposition to His will for our lives. No situation is outside His sovereign control of our lives.
Love is not resentful
Would I like others to be kind, considerate and forgiving of me? Am I called as a Christian to do the same to them? Love forgives and does not keep a record of wrongs. God erases our sins against Him, so how much more should we forget the lesser sins done against us by others?
If we are in Christ, we have been imputed with the righteousness of Christ, and when our sin is covered by His blood, there is no more record of it. It is “wiped away” (Acts 3:19). God has forgiven our many sins against Him how much more should we forgive the lesser sins against us and “keep no record of wrongs.”
Christ is our example of true love
In Charity and Its Fruits, Jonathan Edwards brings us back to the golden rule. We are to treat others as we would like to be treated, to love them as we would want to be loved.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” ~John 13:34-35
We show ourselves to be disciples to a lost, watching world by our love for one another in the body of Christ. We are commanded to love as He has loved. Instead of seeking our own wants and needs we need to be seeking Christ.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” ~Matthew 6:33
Charity and Its Fruits: Living in Light of God's Love by Jonathan Edwards