God's gift of love to the world surpasses understanding
ReligiouslyIncorrect.org—Uniting Bible believing Christians
SERIES—Part 2
As mentioned in part 1 of this series, no person can adequately speak of love without first mentioning the Source of our love—God.

God loved His creation so much that "...He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life..." (John 3:16)

In fact, God's love is so pervasive and complete that He can actually be described with the word "Love" because "God is love." (1 John 4:8)

But, as also noted in part 1 of this series, God's love is arguably of no use to us whatsoever if we do not respond to it by developing a sincere attitude of Christian love in our own lives—for God and our fellow man.

And that love must be more than a feeling—it must also be displayed in sincere action that will be visible to those around us, as we shine as lights in the world.

As the beloved apostle John wrote, "...let us not love with words or with tongue—but with our actions and in truth." (1 John 3:18)



What Is Love?

What exactly is love? And how can we know we are properly demonstrating love in our Christian lives? Jesus said:
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets [of the Old Testament].
(Matthew 7:12)
As you can see, loving others means treating them just as we would want to be treated.

The Bible teaches us that love is more than simply having an emotional feeling—it is something that can be visually observed by others in how we conduct ourselves in our daily activities and human interactions. The Bible points this out in what is probably the greatest description of our demonstration of love found in the Bible: 1 Corinthians 13.

Here, the apostle Paul outlines 15 vital ingredients which together make up love. He said:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Jesus said:
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets [of the Old Testament].
(Matthew 7:12)
Loving others entails treating them just as we would want to be treated. Love is more than simply having an emotional feeling - it is something that can be visually observed by others in how we conduct ourselves in our daily activities and human interactions. Paul wrote:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)




The "15 Ingredients of Love"

Let's take a closer look at each of Paul's "15 ingredients of Love."

First, love is patient. Thus it is important that we be patient when dealing with someone who isn't moving fast enough, or learning fast enough for our liking. Patience is a difficult aspect of love, but it is so important that it was listed first by the inspired Biblical writer.

Second, love is kind. Thus, it is vital that we treat everyone kindly and respectfully and with dignity.

Next, love does not envy. To be envious when good things happen to others, perhaps good things that we believe should have happened to us, is not a Christian attribute. Love does not envy.

Love is not boastful. A person of love does not praise his own actions and deeds or try to bring attention to his own accomplishments. Love is humble, it does not boast. As the Biblical proverb says: "let another praise you and not your own lips."

Next, love is not proud or arrogant. A Christian is not a person with a swagger, or overly proud of his own actions. Instead, a Christian is humble, a servant of others. The Bible says that we should "clothe ourselves with humility." No proud person is a person of love, for pride and arrogance are not attributes of Christ. The Bible says: "God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble."

Next, love is not rude. It is not rude to the salesperson who again calls during supper, it is not rude to those who cut us off in traffic, or to those who treat us rudely. Love is never rude. Any person who behaves rudely is not behaving with love.

Love is not self-seeking. It is not selfish or self-serving. It looks out for others as well as looking out for self. It is unselfish and considerate of others.

Next, love it is not easily angered. It does not quickly fly off the handle - a person of love controls his emotions. Anger out of control is certainly not displaying love.

Love also keeps no record of wrongs. It does not continually bring up the past mistakes of others. Of course, love means treating others as we want to be treated ourselves, so just as we do not wish to have our past mistakes brought up continually, nor should we bring up the past mistakes of others. Love does not keep a record of wrong doing.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. A Christian should never be pleased when evil happens to others, even if it happens to our enemies or to evil individuals who may be deserving of their situation. Love does not delight in evil. Instead, a person of love always rejoices with the truth. It is joyful when someone has found the truth and comes to Jesus Christ, or when a deeper understanding of God's truth is revealed.

Love always protects. It does not gossip and slander, even when that treatment seems deserved. Love is protective of others even when they are not protecting us.

Love always trusts. It is not automatically and judgmentally suspicious of others. While love is not naïve - for the Bible says that we must be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves" - neither is it judgmental of others.

Love always hopes. It does not give up on others easily, and is joyfully positive that one day those who have rejected Christ will come to His salvation.

Love always perseveres. It triumphs through difficult times and difficult circumstances. It does not collapse when times are tough and others are pressuring us. A person of love continues to behave so through all the difficult moments.

Finally, love never fails. It doesn't take a vacation. It is consistent, through the good times and bad times. Through the difficult moments and the easy. It's there when we are tired, hungry, or having a bad day.



More Aspects of Love

Not only does love include these 15 ingredients, but it also involves having a sincere compassion for the plight of others. Jesus referred to this in His description of the final great day of Judgment. He said:
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, `Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Then he will say to those on his left, `Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' They also will answer, `Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' He will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
(Matthew 25:31-46)
Thus, love involves being compassionate of others who need our help, and helping them. Please note that Jesus made this a condition of our salvation, for many will be lost because they failed to be compassionate. The Bible says:
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:32)
Not only must we be compassionate, when we speak to others about the truth of God's word, we must "speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15). In other words, we must be careful to speak the truth with an attitude and disposition of kindness, respect, and compassion. Thus, if you have the truth but do not present the truth in the spirit of love, you are denying the very truth you speak. Paul told Timothy:
Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
(2 Timothy 2:23-26)
Serious problems within a congregation can almost always be traced back to a lack of the spirit of love on the part of one or more Christians in the congregation. Not only does this attitude demonstrate we are not the true disciples of Jesus Christ, it will spiritually destroy us. The apostle Paul said to Christians who were quarrelling and disputing:
...serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." [But] if you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
(Galatians 5:13-15)
The Bible also teaches that when we insist on our own Christian liberties, upon observing practices that clearly violate the consciences of other Christians, thereby wounding their weak consciences, we are not acting out of love:
As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died.
(Romans 14:14-15)
Finally, love must be taken to the ultimate extent of even loving your enemies. Jesus said:
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
(Matthew 5:44-48)
The Bible says:
Do not repay anyone evil for evil…Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(Romans 12:17-21)




Conclusion

As you can see, Love is demonstrated in every action we take. It is displayed in how we speak to others, drive our cars, treat our co-workers and fellow Christians, and conduct ourselves in public and in private. It is displayed in our treatment of our spouses, children, families, friends, acquaintances, strangers - and even our enemies.

Love does not take a vacation, when things aren't quite going our way. In fact, the true test of our love will come when we are stressed, when we are disturbed, when we are frustrated, when we are pressured, when others aren't treating us with respect and kindness. It is during these times our love will be truly tested. But love never fails.

So, develop love in your life! Learn to return good for evil. Learn to forgive. Learn to treat everyone with respect, patience and kindness. Strive for perfection, never content yourself with mediocrity. Treat others just like you would like to be treated. Be compassionate. And, do not repay evil for evil, but overcome evil by doing good.

We close with the words of Paul:
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
(Colossians 3:12-13)
Do everything in love.
(1 Corinthians 16:14)








Additional recommended reading:

Vital points to remember after becoming a Christian
Don't forget to live a life of love




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