I look forward to Valentine’s Day with its romance, bright colors, and an excuse to shower my love with indulgences. One whole day to show the ones you love how much they mean to you! It’s so exciting and fun! Love is in the air! February 14th is a double blessing in our house since it is Valentine’s Day and our Anniversary!
But I’m not the only one who enjoys Valentine’s Day. You can’t watch TV, open a magazine, or catch up on the internet this time of year without hearing about love, romance and how to show someone you love them. That’s what love is all about, right? Well, that depends if you want to believe the world’s version of love or God’s version.
The World Says…
The world says love and romance are one in the same. We are told we will have hot and bothered lustful feelings and must do whatever we have to do to keep the flame alive. It’s gooey, sometimes instant, and we should enjoy it while it lasts. It’s starry nights, carriage rides, and red roses. It is showering your loved one with gifts. We are also told that we can’t help who we fall in love with and falling in and out of love is natural and to be expected.
The Bible tells us God is love. The two can’t be separated because it is his very nature. Love is also a decision that leads to action.
“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18 KJV)
Love Isn’t A Feeling
There is nothing wrong with romance, blessing someone you care about or having sexual desire for your spouse. But we can’t rely on those as our markers for love and fulfillment. Loving God’s way is a conscious decision we make even if we don’t feel loving or the other person has failed to do something to deserve our love. Our feelings constantly change based on our circumstances. We are capable of talking ourselves into love and just as easily talk ourselves out of love.
“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 KJV)
If you accept that God is love and that we are to walk in the same manner as Jesus (1 John 2:6) then we need to do our best to apply the characteristics of love in how we treat not just our spouse but everyone around us. So let’s take a deeper look at what the Bible says about the characteristics of love.
What is love?
Love is patient and kind.
Patience means to be long-suffering. It means the ability to accept delay without complaining or becoming angry.
Being kind is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
Are you being considerate, generous, and slow to anger with those around you? When you feel the other person doesn’t deserve it, it is flat-out hard to put them ahead of yourself. But the other person’s behavior shouldn’t dictate your efforts.
You are responsible for your behavior and they are responsible for theirs. It’s easy to love those that are lovable. We need God’s strength to love the unlovable. Pray and ask for his help. God sees your struggles. He knows you are trying to hold your temper and bless the other person. He will bless your efforts.
“If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink. For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee.” (Proverbs 25:21-22 KJV)
What could you do today to be a little kinder and a bit more patient with at least one person?
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
In the King James Version, it says love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up. I like both versions.
Jealousy is a sneaky evil. When we are feeling like everyone else is getting blessed and we are still waiting for our blessing it’s hard not to feel envious of others. But you need to take captive your thoughts and force yourself to not think this way. You don’t know what battles they have been through to receive the blessings they have. You might see their physical battles but you know little of their emotional or spiritual battles.
The other person might be boastful and proud of their blessings. Let them. You might be understandably fed up to your eyebrows with their boasting and fight not to give yourself whiplash rolling your eyes. But guess what? They might be wrong but so are you. Take that attitude to God because you are not showing love. No matter how annoying the other person is we are to rejoice with them. We can trust God for our blessings that will come in God’s timing. The devil loves to take one person’s sin and use it to take someone else down too. Don’t make it easy for him. Resist the devil by praying for that person and the devil will flee.
“Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” (Romans 12:15 KJV)
We aren’t to do things for self-promotion or self-gain. Did you spend weeks searching Pinterest for a super spectacular treat idea to send for your child’s class party so your child would be thrilled and it fulfilled your creative side or so everyone would be envious noticing what you sent and what a great mother you obviously are? It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to manipulate people or situations and when that doesn’t work in our favor we get angry, resentful and down-right rude.
“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.” (James 3:13 KJV)
We are to put the other person ahead of yourself without an attitude. It’s a heart thing. It takes work to change our perspective about someone and praying for them is the only way that works. Everything else is a temporary fix.
How often are we able to do that? Do we arrogantly hold others captive boasting about our accomplishments?
Love does not demand its own way.
We all know someone who is convinced they are right and everyone else is wrong. No matter what you say this person won’t listen and just stays focused on proving to you they are right. This is selfishness and arrogance. This type of person loves to correct everyone around them and will push until they get their way. In fact, they put themselves on a pedestal above everyone else. They do not bend or give place to anyone else’s wishes; it’s their way or the highway as they bully everyone around them.
If someone in your life is like this, let it go. God never blesses such self-centeredness and he WILL deal with it. If it means you have to limit your contact with that person, so be it. Just don’t forget to pray for them and your relationship with them.
Hopefully, you are not that person. If you are, go to God in prayer and ask him to help you be more kind and loving.
I have a dear friend who is always complaining that nobody will help her around the house and she has to flip her wig to even get a minor response from her family. She works full-time, takes care of the kids, runs everyone around and does the bulk of chores around the house.
Finally one day it was brought to her attention that she won’t let her family help her because she demands everything be done her way when she feels it needs to be done, and to her standards or she gets irritated, snarky, and lets everyone know it. As a result, she is stressing herself out to the point of tears and just wants to run away from everything. She is angry, resentful, and on Facebook venting. Her real issue isn’t with her family and their lack of love for her. Her issue is her heart and desire for control.
Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.
This is hard for a lot of us. It’s not easy to be long-suffering with someone who knows what buttons to push and regularly gets on your last nerve. At times we have a short fuse but we also keep turmoil alive in our life by rehashing it over and over in our minds. That gives place to the devil. Being irritable and keeping track of who wins seem to feed off of each other.
Too many husbands and wives keep mental tallies about their spouse’s actions. “He bought this so I deserve that!” When we keep track of offenses our mind holds us prisoner. We are focusing so much on whats going on in our heads that we can’t hear the Holy Spirit’s direction.
Have you ever been around someone who was so negative and unhappy that they were irritable with everyone around them? A perfectly innocent comment could send them into a rant. Are you that person?
In the last half hour, what path did your thoughts go down? Are you rehashing something you should just let go?
Love is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Injustice means unfair treatment of another.
Rejoice means to feel or show great joy or delight.
Truth means to be in line with reality as revealed by God. We’ve all heard that truth will set us free. Just remember this applies to God’s truth, not the world’s version of the truth.
We need to be careful to never be happy with someone else’s misfortune. That coworker you can’t stand that is always taking credit for everyone else’s work and just found out this morning that she was laid off? Don’t rejoice to be rid of her. She may have been deceitful and manipulative but God still loves her just as much as he loves you.
As my husband says, we draw the line of sin behind ourselves. We can justify anything we do but freely bring the hammer down on someone else’s sin. We might feel justified and self-righteous over them getting what we feel they deserve but God deals with each of us as he sees fit. He sees all sin as equally wrong. Rejoicing over someone’s misfortune is never of God.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Faith is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. Faith is the operation of our hope.
Hope is the seed of faith.
Endurance means to continue forward regardless of what our eyes see, to not move left or right but to stay on the path we’ve been given.
Sometimes God tells us to hang onto a promise, a word, or even a vision and to trust him. Yet, how many times have we been given advice by well-meaning friends or family to give up on our dream, our loved one, our marriage, our fight for better health? They mean well even if they won’t accept that you are standing on a promise from God.
But according to this, we are to never give up or lose faith. We were never promised an easy life but we have been promised that if we hold fast and keep our focus on God he will bring us through. He will turn what the devil has meant for harm and use it someway, somehow to bless us. God believes the best about us and he never gives up on us. We can try to do the same for each other. It’s the least we can do.
What situation are you finding yourself in that God has been telling you to hang in there and hold fast?
Regardless of the world giving us 1 day a year to celebrate love, God has given us 365 days a year to celebrate love. Let’s celebrate freely and joyfully!
Love is patient and is kind.
Love doesn’t envy.
Love doesn’t brag, is not proud, doesn’t behave itself inappropriately, doesn’t seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil.
Love doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7 WEB)