I’m leading my congregation through a practical look at the incredible definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13. We’re doing this in the context of learning how to love the “unloveable”—or maybe I should say, loving those who are the most resistant to real love. If we can show them love, how much more will the love of Jesus be seen!
All of these verbs are present tense verbs. That means they aren’t exhausted in the past, and they aren’t waiting for future conditions to improve… they are in operation NOW.
Far too many people know Christians more by what we’re against than by what we’re for. So where the biblical text say “love does not” or “love isn’t,” I’ve changed it into the positive “love is.”
You can read about the first five attributes love love by clicking here.
The next five attributes are:
Love is graceful
- The root word means something that should be covered up, or something we’re ashamed of. Because our words and actions are graceful, they are things we wouldn’t have to defend, or explain, or apologize for later. They are words and actions that wouldn’t embarrass us.
- “Agape will do nothing that misbecomes it.” —Matthew Henry
Love knows our relationship > my rights
- True love “does not demand its own way” (New Living Translation) nor does it “insist on its own rights” (Amplified Bible). Instead it always seeks ways that the relationship can be repaired or enhanced, even if that means giving up something I consider to be “my right.”
- NOTE: I’m not saying that you become a doormat. This is not a license for someone to abuse you, but it is a call for us to balance our responses. Romans 12:18 says as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
- Here are some great balancing verses. Balance Proverbs 26:4 with 26:5, and balance Philippians 2:3 with 2:4.
Love is even-tempered
- The Amplified Bible says it well: love is not touchy or fretful or resentful.
- This Greek word means not getting stirred up or exasperated. So we need to lighten up!
- There are some places where we’ve become too sensitive, too touchy, too short-fused. The fire of hurt has replaced the fire of love. So Matthew Henry advises us: “Where the fire of love is kept in, the flames of wrath will not easily kindle, nor long keep burning.”
Love is forgiving
- The New International Version says love keeps no record of wrongs.
- This Greek phrase speaks of an accountant tallying up the hurts (where there is an overdrawn account), seeing there is a debt to be paid back, and then appointing himself as the bill collector. True love cancels those IOUs.
- We don’t forgive others because they deserve forgiveness, but we forgive others because we received forgiveness from God that we did not deserve!
- Matthew 6:14 For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (AMP)
Love is God-honoring
- Agape loves what God loves and hates what God hates.
- Agape loves when people find God’s truth, and hates anything that blocks that pursuit.
- Agape loves the sinner and hates the sin.
- “The sins of others are the grief of an agape spirit [not] its sport or delight; they will touch it to the quick….” —Matthew Henry
Here’s where the real test comes in: How will you apply these attributes of love to someone in your life? More specifically: to someone you think is “unloveable”?
I know you have someone in your life that you think is unloveable. With that person’s face clearly in mind, how will you fill in the blanks:
- I can be graceful in…
- I can give up my right to…
- I need to lighten up in this area…
- I must forgive them for…
- I need to pray for a breakthrough in…
If you would like a downloadable PDF of this worksheet, click here –> Love is… worksheet 2