“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
While I tend to agree with the seeming minority that Valentine’s Day is just another Hallmark holiday, there are some who view it as a celebration of love. Okay, I suppose it can be that too.
So it’s a celebration of love. But what exactly is this love stuff? What does it even mean? Is it tender emotions? Is it sexual? What is it?!
Love is patient and kind. Or, to use the wording found in I Corinthians 13:4, love is “suffering long.” It “beareth all things, endureth all things” It endures. It does not change or die away when wronged or hurt. When it is tried and tested, it holds on, refusing to let go. And when it is shoved aside by others, it opens its arms in reconciliation. It reaches out to others regardless of any slights, esteeming the needs of others more important than its own.
Love is content. It “envieth not.” It isn’t jealous; instead, it rejoices with and for others. It doesn’t seek after the good fortune of others; love isn’t selfish.
Love isn’t full of itself. It isn’t conceited, but demonstrates the beauty of humility. When love is put into action, it’s never meant as a show, trying to make itself look good; it acts in sincerity, without any thought of who could be watching.
Love is courteous. Love doesn’t behave like an animal. It is polite and refined, so that others can be comforted and edified by its presence. Perhaps it’s a humorous example, but love doesn’t burp at the table, or tell crude jokes around people who are offended by such behavior. A person demonstrating love will strive to be a lady or a gentleman.
Love cares for other people. It “seeketh not her own.” It’s selfless, always on the lookout for people in need so that it can attempt to fulfill that need.
Love is not easily angered. “Not easily provoked.” Love is the spirit of unconditional forgiveness. It endures hurt and turns the other cheek. And when it is provoked to anger, it does not act in sin.
Love sees the best in others. It “thinketh no evil” and “believeth all things.” It doesn’t think evil of other people, or make snap judgments. It gives the benefit of the doubt, and chooses to look at someone from their best angles, not focusing on the ugly. It is not suspicious, and it chooses to forgive and forget.
Love doesn’t rejoice in sin, but in righteousness. It’s pretty straight-forward: love does not tolerate sin. Just because it focuses on the best in others does not mean it excuses wickedness. Often, the best way to love someone is to correct them, even if it hurts. It is more loving to try to coax them to the right path than to let them destroy themselves.
And finally, Love never fails. It doesn’t die, or fade, like the bruised petals of a rose. Love is alive– simply because true love is found in Christ, and Christ is eternal.
So today, and every day, examine your heart of hearts. Is your love real and true? Or is it a cheap Valentine’s Day knock-off?