The Apostle Paul urges us to “follow the way of love.” What is that way?
On the night in which He was betrayed, Jesus told His disciples, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
The love to which Jesus calls us is so radical, so remarkable, that people will recognize it as “Jesus’ love.” He gave us the example to follow. The way of love is to imitate Christ.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 describes what the love of Christ—the way of love looks like:
- Love is patient – This one hits me square between the eyes. I’m always looking for the shortest grocery line and the fastest traffic lane. I forget the people around me when I’m in a hurry. But I want to be like Jesus, who while hurrying to heal a man’s dying daughter, still took time to stop and comfort a woman who had been suffering an incurable illness for many years. Lord, I want to be patient like You!
- Love is kind – Kindness is nearly always expressed in deeds for others. Sometimes we overlook those closest to us—our spouse, a child, or parent. We feel compassion for the homeless person on the corner but speak sharply to a “loved one.” May we always be kind to all whom God has placed in our lives, for He is kind to all. By the kindness of our love, may they see Jesus in us.
- Love does not envy – Envy is an ugly sin. Envy is partner to greed. Instead of rejoicing with others for their success, we wish their success on ourselves instead. This is not at all like Jesus. Lord, help us to be joyful with others in their good fortune.
- Love does not boast – We boast when we forget that everything we have is a gift from God. In boasting, we seek to exalt ourselves above others. That’s not the way of love. Let us rather boast in Christ. “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:31)
- Love is not proud – Pride is at the core of man’s rebellion against God. Pride and arrogance don’t endear us to others either. Pride repels and undermines relationships. By contrast, Jesus exudes and exemplifies humility. Let us follow His example by living humbly with others.
- Love does not dishonor others – Political, social, and religious differences are dividing our nation and even many close relationships. Even though we may strongly disagree with someone of a different persuasion, we are called to honor them. For instance, all government authority is established by God. If we dishonor those in authority, we are dishonoring God. (Romans 13:1-2) Love honors others.
- Love is not self-seeking – A self-seeking, self-focused life is ultimately bankrupt of all that is good. Love seeks the welfare of others. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43-45)
- Love is not easily angered – Anger undermines love. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20) No matter how justified we feel in becoming angry, our anger does not produce righteousness.
- Love keeps no record of wrongs – No doubt many reading this have been horribly wronged by others. Yet Jesus wants us to forgive them. Not because they deserve it, but because forgiving others mimics the grace and mercy God has extended to us. Also, forgiveness is the healthy thing to do. As someone put it, “Refusing to forgive others is like giving them rent-free permission to dominate your thoughts.” Bitterness consumes us from the inside out.
- Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth – There are two powerful things going on in this statement. First, this is a moral or godly quality inherent in love. We have cheapened love with the idea that love is tolerant of sinful practices. God does not tolerate sin of any kind, yet He loves us sinners.
Second, real love rejoices in the truth. Truth also has this moral quality about it that love loves. Our culture is under the illusion that there is no ultimate truth, or that truth is what you believe it to be. This is nonsense. Love is not naïve but is founded on truth and stands for the truth.
- Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres – Paul gave these characteristics of love in the context of talking about the church, the body of Christ. This love is “the most excellent way” to conduct ourselves with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. We protect each other, trust each other, offer hope, and we persevere together.
These character qualities express the beauty of love in action for followers of Jesus. This is the way of love. This is way of Christ.
©2019 Rob Fischer