What is real love?

1 corinthians 13_4

As I walked across the back of the deck the other day, I noticed the condition of the hosta flowers in our deck planters.  A sudden summer shower had weighed them down until they were completely flat on the decking.

I thought to myself, “I know how they feel”.  The rain was good – really good – and really needed.  But the blessing of the rain caused the hosta blooms to not be able to stand up.  For a time, they would be laying down, overwhelmed by the blessing.

That’s how I’ve felt lately, overwhelmed with the blessing of God’s work in my heart.  I have felt the need to be prostrate before our almighty God, humble hearted and surrendered.

Amid all of the ugly news and the uncertainty of the future, I’ve needed the assurance of God’s presence.  Assurance that He is unwavering and all-powerful.

Well, I found the assurance in His Word.  His never-failing words of comfort.

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

1 Corinthians 13. Verse 4.

My last post covered the first 3 verses of 1 Corinthians chapter 13.   Whew!  Let me tell you, I was up to my eyeballs in the topic of Divine Love.  I was in so deep that I could barely breathe.

Continuing into the next verse was no less deep.  And eye-opening.

 Let’s read it again. . .

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.


Right off the bat, the word “patient” makes me uncomfortable.  I’m not an especially patient person.  I like to take action and get things checked off my list.

My initial reaction was to add “Be more patient” to my to-do list.  I’ll get right on that and then check it off my list.

But. . . that’s not how it works.  Divine Love (see the previous post) is not about being patient in our own effort.  It’s about letting God’s Divine Love grow patience in us and let the results bring glory to Him.

The patience that verse 4 talks about is really about being composed in every situation.  Waiting peacefully and without complaining about people and circumstances.

Being impatient is basically a result of pride.  Wanting things my way and in my time. Not exactly loving.  And not Divine Love at all.

Allowing Divine Love to produce patience in us is a process that takes time.  Continually giving up our right to have everything happen the way we want looks like taking baby steps in the right decision.  And it requires continual surrender.

Yup, I said surrender.  It makes a lot of people cringe – including myself.   Surrender is not very popular.  We all want to be independent, strong, and in charge and, well, surrender just doesn’t allow for that.

Or does it?  Surrender that comes from Divine Love happens because we agree with God that He has a great plan for our lives.  We don’t have to fight and insist and push to have things our way.  God works in us when we follow Him.

Does that mean that we must look like a door-mat, allowing people to step on us and leave their dirt all over us?  Nope, not at all.

Now, sometimes, we will get dirty – that looks like work. Sometimes we will feel the brunt of people’s footsteps – that’s life with people.  But dealing with dirt and footsteps with patience shows Divine Love.

I have learned so much through the years by letting God wipe other’s people dirt off of me and soothing the bumps that other people have left on me.  And His patience with me is the ultimate example of how I should live.

Now, on to the next part. . . Love is kind.

The Divine Love that shows kindness is proactive.  It looks for ways to love and care for others.  It puts on its binoculars and searches for the next person or family that God shows need a good dose of kindness showered on them.

Our world is filled with people who need some kindness. Kindness can diffuse a difficult situation.  It can turn around someone’s day.  It can soften someone’s heart.  And here’s what I have found – kindness opens the door to talk about what God is doing. And everyone needs to hear about that.

Divine Love is patient and kind but there are things it does not do.

Divine Love does not envy or boast.

Hmmm. . . I struggled to define envy and boasting.  I mean, of course, I had a good overall idea of what they meant but I wanted to dig deeper.

Apparently, I’ve been confusing envy and jealousy all of my life.  This was such an eye-opener!

Envy is when you are bothered to see that other people have something you don’t have and you (secretly or not) want them to not have it.  You might even scheme to take it away from them or day-dream about them failing. Another word for envy could be discontentment.

Jealousy, on the other hand, is hanging onto what you have and being fearful of losing it.  Hanging onto something so tightly that you don’t want to share or be generous.  Focusing only on yourself.

Divine love is not jealous or envious because it cares about others and is happy to see them succeed and prosper.  It rejoices for others and doesn’t focus on itself.

You know you are experiencing Diving Love for others when you can be content when those around you are enjoying something you’ve been waiting for.  I think that’s the hardest time to get over myself and rest in God’s provision for my life.

A cousin of Envy (and jealousy) is boasting.

That’s why Divine Love does not boast.  Boasting is talking big about yourself and your life with no regard for others.

It is using words to point out what others are not or what they don’t have.  Its purpose is to stir up strife and provoke others and sometimes disguises itself by being passive-aggressive.

Boasting can be a way to hide insecurity, but when our security is in Christ, we don’t have to focus on ourselves.  On the other hand, boasting in what Christ has done is a great way to use your words.  Repeat after me, “Come and see what God has done”.

Lastly, verse 4 tells us that Divine Love is not proud.

Basically, it’s the culmination of all of the first part of the verse.

Pride causes impatience, unkindness, envy, and boasting.  It’s the root cause that can only be dug out by God’s work in our lives.

Pride, in all of its forms, stomps all over other people while wearing boots with giant tread, leaving its mark that takes a long time to go away.

Pride will never be a part of Divine Love. Not even a little bit.  It can’t be.  Divine Love is the most un-prideful, unselfish, patient, and kind experience.  It is all of this because it comes from God and not from us.

Are you as floored by all of this as I am?  Has this turned your status quo life upside down like it has mine?  Are you re-thinking everything you previously thought about love – Divine Love?

Have you felt God stirring your heart to be closer to Him so you can be a conduit of Divine Love to others?

Ok, we’ve just got to stop and pray right now. . .

Lord, you have opened our eyes to see the Divine Love you have designed for all of us to experience and be a part of.  You love us too much to let us stay the same and live the same old life we’ve been living.  Grow us, Lord. Make us uncomfortable when we want to live in pride and selfishness. Change us.  Amen.


3 thoughts on “What is real love?


  2. Pingback: How rude | Blessed Brown Wren

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