What Is Love – I Corinthians 13:4-6

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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The storyline of the 1970 movie, Love Story, with Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal, revolves around an upper-class young man falling in love with a middle-class girl. Against his father’s wishes, they date, marry, and build a life together. After a fight and separation of several hours, the two reunite. He tries to apologize and she stops him, saying, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” At the end of the film, he repeats this phrase to his estranged father. I remember thinking at the time: “That makes no sense at all.”

There seems to be a great deal of confusion over what love is. Some believe it is sex without commitment in marriage, while others think it is only a passionate emotion. But the most accurate explanation of love is found in I Corinthians, Chapter 13. God’s description starts with, “Charity [or love] suffereth long, and is kind” (vs. 4a). When someone is difficult, love with great kindness, endures the irritation for a long time. “Charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up” (vs. 4b). It is natural to demand our rights with others and exalt ourselves, but real love demonstrates humility toward the one we love. Love “doth not behave itself unseemly” (vs. 5a). The idea here is that love does not go beyond what is appropriate or lose control. Love simply behaves very well. Love “seeketh not her own” (vs. 5). When love reigns, we put the needs and wishes of the one we love ahead of our own. “[Love] is not easily provoked, [and] thinketh no evil” (vs. 5b). Love is not being easily irritated, nor is it suspecting another of wrong doing without proof. Instead, love will think the best of others and demonstrate great patience. Verse 6 says: love “Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.” Here, the Lord is making a contrast between sinful actions and qualities of virtue. Love takes no pleasure in vices, but is overjoyed when the one loved exhibits good and godly characteristics. The description ends by saying love bears, believes, hopes and endures “all things” (vs. 7). No matter what comes, for better or worse, love endures it all. Even in poor treatment, injustice, selfishness and more, love can prevail if we allow God’s love for others to live in us.

Sound impossible? Real love doesn’t come naturally. It’s supernatural. We need God’s strength to exhibit genuine love. Let’s pause right now to ask for His power to live in love the way we should.

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."