WHAT KIND OF LOVE IS THIS?
May the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all men, just as we also do for you. I Thess. 3:12
God has commanded His children to love all people. Does that mean that I must feel affection for everyone? No. That would require that each person in my life, including my enemies, act lovable. I have often felt guilty for not having feelings of love toward a certain person. I just couldn’t conjure up the warm affectionate emotions that I thought characterized God’s love.
Warm affection was not what Paul was speaking of in today’s scripture. The kind of love he prayed would abound is the kind he referenced earlier in I Corinthians 13. It was a love empowered by the Spirit of God, one impossible of humanly manufacturing. This love is not dependent on what another person does or doesn’t do. Paul described it well.
- Love is longsuffering ~ it takes a long time to get hot.
- Love is kind ~ kindness includes compassion and tenderness.
- Love is not jealous ~ it rejoices at the success of the other person.
- Love vaunts not itself ~ it has encouragement for the other on its tongue.
- Love is not puffed up ~ it is characterized by genuine humility.
- Love does not behave unseemly ~ it operates with determined politeness.
- Love seeks not its own ~ it does not think of its own rights, but serves the other.
- Love takes no account of evil ~ it does not ignore evil and is willing to confront it when necessary, but it will not plot to take revenge.
- Love believes all things ~ love is not gullible, but it chooses to give the benefit of the doubt.
Sometimes my love for others is heartfelt and the fellowship with them is a moving experience. How wonderful when that is the case. What more accurately showcases my heart though, is how well I love someone I’m not naturally fond of. At that point, I am not to act out the feelings of my heart but rely on Christ and the transforming power of His Word to empower actions and words that can only be birthed in me by the Spirit.
The inclinations of my own heart leave others wanting. You tell me to love all people. Only Your Spirit makes it possible as I submit to You and wait for Your grace. Amen