Love. It has been talked about, sang about, narrated, used, abused and cast aside. What is the definition of practical love? People claim to have it, feel it, know what it is and even be lost in it. Wars have been fought by people over it. Families have come together because of it.
What’s so special about this four letter word that evokes so much emotion and passion?
I’m going to state it up front. No matter what we think or want to believe, love does not originate in or with the human being. Love is a person. That person is God. He says that He is love. That tells me that if I want to be a lover, I have to go to Him for the skill. Outside of Him, whatever I give or offer to others is of my own devising and will always come up short.
He has to teach me and help me to achieve His standard.
So let’s examine His definition of love.
His love is practical
I must say, that in analyzing the love that God demonstrates, I have come to wonder if we humans, can ever attain that standard. The answer I have gotten back is, yes. If He calls me to it, He will lift me to achieve it.
So this is what He says love is and is not, and I quote His words:
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. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
There it is, His definition of practical love.
The challenge is to practice it. And even when you begin, to keep it going. I am sure that you have already realized that His way is totally different to what we know naturally.
Dissecting His love
Now let’s take apart this declaration. First of all, to those who don’t know, ‘charity’ is love. So, wherever you read ‘charity’, think love – I just enjoy the olden English of the king James version of the Bible.
- Charity suffereth long – says to me that in any and all circumstance, He is patient. He is not hasty, or quick to take offense or to be offended.
- Charity is kind – love cannot hurt others. Instead, He considers the feelings of others and tries to uplift them instead of destroy them. He is gracious, generous, benevolent even when others are not. This, even under the most trying circumstances. So love remains kind even when others are unkind. No matter who that may be.
- Charity envieth not – when love is present, no one will envy another person. Instead, there’ll be happiness for the other person’s success. Do you realize that it is envy that leads to most of the unhappiness in our families and the society. We need to replace it with love. Be glad for your neighbor when he/she is succeeding in life or has something that you don’t.
- Charity vaunteth not itself – love has no need to be boastful. When He does something, its done for the good of others. He has no need to brag to the world about His achievements. Instead, He allows the world to recognize what He accomplished and humbly accepts the credits that may come His way. If no credit comes, He goes on loving.
- Charity is not puffed up – arrogance, pride, self-importance are all absent from love. Look at it this way, since He does not seek praise for His actions, there is no need to be puffed up. Love never seeks to be seen as better than others. If we truly love, everyone’s happiness would be important to us. Being puffed up leads the individual to think himself better than others and allows them to despise and destroy or belittle others. That’s not love.
- Charity does not behave itself unseemly – love is dignified. At no time does love behave in a manner that is unfitting, inappropriate or unbecoming. The person who loves, knows just how to behave in any given situation. When love exists, there is also wisdom and tact. No matter the trial, love rises to it and behaves politely.
- Charity seeketh not her own – this one is a real challenge. We all tend to look after ourselves first. Yet the Greatest Lover tells us that love does not seek first to be pleased but to please. When you love, you want to see others prosper and you contribute to that prosperity. If a couple seeks after each other’s welfare first, what a difference we’ll see in families.
And if you think that He does not know what He is speaking about, look at what He went and do. He took His only Son, out of the comforts and majesty of Heaven, and sent Him to this filthy world to restore its inhabitants to majesty. That’s love in action.
- Charity is not easily provoked – hmmmm. We go over the edge so easily today. The slightest thing provokes/hurt us. Issues that a few minutes, hours or days later when looked back upon, would be seen in the light of hind sight as unworthy of the attention given to it, is at the moment blown out of proportion. Even when deliberately provoked by someone, love patiently endures. He does not allow injury to bring a hasty, damaging response. Instead, love calms the situation.
- Charity thinketh no evil – how easy it is to think evil of others, even those we say we love. Something may be said or done that does not appear to be in our favor. Immediately we think that the other person is out to get us. We take up arms to defend ourselves and there’s all out war. People are hurt. When love think no evil, this will not happen. And I’ve only scratched the surface on this one.
- Charity rejoiceth not in iniquity – am sure that you’ve heard people rejoice when wrong is done to others. Some even incite it. Probably you too have been guilty at one time or another of the act. True love however, cannot rejoice when evil is done, no matter how deserving of it the person may appear to be. Love is always on the side of right.
- Charity rejoiceth in the truth – love loves truth. Therefore, love cannot be false or accept lies. The person who loves will love the liar but never the lies he tells. Love also is truthful, no matter if telling the truth will be to his disadvantage. Love is most happy when truth is present.
- Charity beareth all things – we set limits to our love. We will take so much and no more. At some point, if we feel pushed too far, we retaliate. The desire for revenge comes into play and if we think its possible to escape reprisals, we take revenge. Love bares evil, persecution, malice, abuse, even death and goes on loving. Some may say, that type of love is foolish but am not dealing with human ‘love’ , am dealing with the ideal, the standard at which we aim. So to love like this, there must be a continuous connection with God.
- Charity believeth all things – this is not foolish love, or love that believes lies. It is love that gives the benefit of the doubt to the person until there is evidence that the truth has not been told. It also takes us into that higher belief that involves whatever is sent to us from God. It gives us hope.
- Charity hopeth all things – love is always hopeful, even in the most testing circumstances. This hope is not so much in man, since we more often than not – disappoint each other. It resides in the providence of God and His Will to work all things for our good. As a result of this hope, love seek the best for and in others.
- Charity endureth all things – the love that can endure all things is that love that we have been looking at. No matter what comes its way, love does not change. Love cannot hate, kill, stop loving or any other thing negative. Even when love has to release someone to their choice, its done in love. There’s no malice or spite involved. Love endures all things. This may cause some to fear to love because they don’t want to be hurt but love even exposes itself to that possibility.
- Charity never faileth – and since it can endure and endures all things then of course, love never fails. The person who loves will love the one who acts hatefully in spite of the hate. Love does not turn around and say; “well you hate me and hurt me so I’ll hate you and hurt you”. In all this love says; “I love you”. This statement is seen in action.
If we look at love/charity as a tree, these are the fruits. And love is not a barren tree. The fruits must be cultivated. They are always available for nourishment.
Have you planted this tree? Are you cultivating it correctly or are you denying it the right nourishment so that it may bear as it should? I am convinced that to really love we must have these fruits on our tree. If they are absent, we need to do something about it.
Take the challenge
So, now we know the benchmark and who established it. On our own, this is unattainable. Of this I am sure. But with God’s help, anything He calls us to is possible. The great thing about this is that it is a life changer and one that will bring unimaginable benefits to us and others.
Over the past few years, there have been many online challenges. Probably you have taken part in some.
Here’s another one that I am sure you will enjoy. Come on, take the challenge.
I am delighted that you have taken the time to read to the end. Please feel free to comment in the provided down below and give your opinion or ask questions.