This is what Love (actually) looks like

Last time I talked about what difference Jesus makes. He not only saves us from ourselves, He answers the deepest longings within us. We’re all looking for love and when we encounter Jesus we find a love that changes everything. But how do we know we’re loving others like Jesus does without projecting our own broken relational issues on them?

Fortunately for us, Paul has already described what this love looks like. I will break down this overly familiar passage and, hopefully, give it a fresh perspective.

Here’s a version of the passage we hear at weddings:

Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. (1 Cor.13:4-7 TPT)

Love is large. While this word is added to the original Greek, it belongs here. God’s love is always abundant, inclusive, and boundless. There’s no smallness or pettiness with God’s love.

Incredibly patient. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Love never loses its cool or forces its expectations on others. It always lives with expectancy, waiting for the proper time for everything.

Gentle and consistently kind. It’s the kindness of God that leads to repentance (Rom.2:4). Love is always gentle with others. It does not bully or force itself on others.

Refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to others. In other words, love is other-centered. It rejoices in other’s blessing. Conversely, this kind of jealousy reveals how self-centered we really are.

Does not brag…or inflate its own importance. Love does not need to self-promote or bring attention to itself in order to feel affirmed. Bragging is usually a sign of insecurity, and there’s no insecurity in love!

Does not traffic in shame or disrespect. Love does not manipulate people with shame in order to influence them. It doesn’t think of oneself as better or more important than others. It sees all people, no matter who they are, as equally valuable and loved by God.

Nor selfishly seeks its own honor. Love doesn’t need to take credit for its acts of self-giving. It prefers to bless others in secret. And by not seeking it’s own glory, love always glorifies God (reveals His goodness).

Not easily irritated or quick to take offense. In Aramaic, it literally means, “Does not stare at evil.” Love does not fly off the handle or take everything personal, which is a sign of self-centered behavior. It always forgives and is unoffendable, always seeking to understand more than the words spoken or the actions taken against it.

Joyfully celebrates honesty….finds no delight in what is wrong. Love encourages people to be vulnerable and honest so that true intimacy in communication can take place. This allows relationships to be healed and strengthened. It fights against injustice wherever it’s found, always seeking the welfare of others.

A safe place of shelter. The more familiar phrase, “bears all things” (Greek: στέγω – stegō) literally means that love is like a roof that protects us. It covers our shortcomings, never exposing them to humiliate us, rather it provides a safe place where we’re free to open up our hearts so we can become who we really are.

Never stops believing the best for others. Love never focuses on what people are not, but sees who they really are, apart from the wounds and baggage that hides their true brilliance and value. God is the “Great I Am“; and He has come to set us free for all our “I am not’s!

Never takes failure as defeat. Love works all things together for our good (Rom.8: 28). Failure is only seen as an opportunity to grow in what we’re lacking in our experience in Christ. Love is never defeated because….

Love never gives up! Love stays in the room, it fights for understanding and connection. Love is a the solid rock on which we stand because God is love.

Beloved, this is exactly how God loves you. And whatever you think love is, if it’s any different than this, it’s not love. But the thing about these attributes of love is that they locate us.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll assess our idea of love with these and realize just how far short we fall. We may be good at a few of them, but fail in others. This love is how we know we’re following Jesus instead of walking in our own strength.

The only way possible for you and me to ever begin to love like this is to first receive God’s love for us, continually walk in that love and let Him heal us, so that we can let that same love pour out of us unto others. Only God can heal our deepest wounds that are even hidden from us. This is how we obey Jesus. And, as I said in my last post, this is sorely what the world needs now.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. (John 15:9-12 NIV*)

* All emphasis added.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 40 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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11 Responses to This is what Love (actually) looks like

  1. Oh, awesome post! I haven’t read those versus in TPT until now. I like it!

    I think this is a really good question! “But how do we know we’re loving others like Jesus does without projecting our own broken relational issues on them?”

    Many of us honestly don’t know what love even is, and we are so relationally fractured and dysfunctional it isn’t even funny. These are all learned behaviors and unfortunately what many of have learned from other fractured creatures or the dysfunctional culture around us, is not good. So we really need to study love more! Seems obvious to me, the Bible is full love, God is love, those who don’t know love, don’t know God. I’m telling ya though, this can be a mountain, a hurdle, often a brick wall within the church. Not all of course, some people really get it, I’m just saying, we people tend to shy away from love and throw up walls.

    • Mel Wild says:

      You’re right, IB. When you see how Scripture describes love, you realize just how dysfunctional we really are in knowing how to love. And there’s only one reason for this. We only know the weak imitation apart from experiencing God’s love firsthand. This love is not something that can be imitated, not by the Church not by anyone. It must be experienced. It’s not just a mountain, it’s an infinite gulf! We think we know love but it’s second-hand imitation, flawed, still based in self-interest, and eventually conditional. Even our acts of service, as Paul points out in the first three verses of this chapter.

      But when we genuinely open our hearts to be loved by God, we start to receive what love actually is. And then we have something to give away to others. His Spirit empowers us to love like He does.

      When the church gets this, we will begin to look and love like Jesus instead of trying to imitate Him.

  2. AfroLatino says:

    Hi Mel

    Thanks for your post. I really like this TPT Version on 1 Corinthians 13. I think no matter how much you talk about love, the carnal mind will never understand until we sit at the feet of Jesus and really understand this. For me, the carnal mind also includes those that attend church. I came across a you tube video the other day on how there is still segregation in the church and mainstream christian music. Then you came to my mind as I don’t see the ignorance in your postings and know you have written a few articles in the past on a positive light towards African Americans. As an African, I have dwelt too long in this phase and moving on. Just wanted to thank you for your spirit filled posts. My heart has surely been healed.

    The verse that I would like to talk about is “Love is large and incredibly patient”. More often that not, we don’t love Jesus or others like we should. Some desert the faith and engage in debauchery but yet, God is always faithful. Like the prodigal son, he patiently waits for us to return back to Him. I love that he doesn’t do this through force but his kindness leads to repentance.

    I grew up listening to sermons like if you don’t remain a virgin until marriage, you may not find a good husband. If you don’t pay your tithes or follow His ways, God won’t bless you. This confuses people as when we grow up, we see that this is not necessarily the case. We see those that party get married first and those that follow the ways of the world get the good jobs. Then, this leaves many christians frustrated and disgruntled because they have not got the rewards promised for their good works. Although we were made for good works, it is by grace that we are saved. God cares for the prostitutes too as seen in the bible. His greatest desire is that all should come to the knowledge of him! His love transforms lives. He is a rewarder of those who diligently put their trust in Him. We love because He first loved us.

    God bless

    • Mel Wild says:

      Amen, well said, AfroLatino. To your first comments, carnality can certainly exist in the church attenders! Very much so. And you will find it in abundance on the Internet. This was Paul’s point to the Corinthians.

      I personally have never understood prejudice in any form. It’s about the most ignorantly dangerous thing a person can think, definitely showing that they don’t know God at all. And what happened to African Americans here in the States was absolutely evil.

      I grew up in a small town in the northern part of the Midwest. My mother was a godly woman who was always kind and didn’t have a prejudice bone in her body. In the 60’s civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. was a hero to me (actually, I see him as a true follower of Jesus now!). Growing up, my doctor was an African American who was also a Tuskegee airman in WWII. He was brilliant, funny (reminded me of Bill Cosby!), always encouraging me, besides being a decorated war hero. So, I never personally witnessed segregation or racial prejudice until I moved to Texas in the 1970s. I was shocked that it still existed after all these years. I’ve come to believe that a lot of it has to do with cultural ignorance. They were taught to hate anyone not like them, from generation to generation. They hate what they don’t understand or have a personal relationship with. This is true of all partisan hatred, btw. But when we get to know people at a heart level, we can start to see them the way God sees them.

      It’s also sad that so many preachers have used manipulation and fear to control their people. This, and bad theology, has done so much damage to the church over the years. This is all a sign of insecurity and unhealed wounds in those who are supposed to be helping us grow up into Christ. They project their issues unto God, thinking they’re serving Him. The Pharisees did the same thing to Jesus.

      But God’s love IS large! It’s not petty or manipulative and sees all equally valuable and loved by God. And the good news is, there’s a growing number of believers who are learning how to be loved and to love like Jesus. So, I am encouraged by what’s happening in Jesus’ church right now.

      Thanks, as always, for your encouraging comments. Blessings to you.

  3. Pingback: Love is all that will remain | In My Father's House

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  5. Angelilie says:

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  6. Pingback: The source code of heaven is Love | In My Father's House

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