This is Part 2 of a 2 part series. Click here to read Pt.1
So what characterizes true love? Practically speaking, what does it look like? You may ask, “How will I know if I am truly loving someone with the third type of love you mentioned in Pt. 1–agape love?”
For centuries, western men and women have had one major source for their definition of true love. That source is the best selling book of all time and tops every list today–selling so many copies that the New York Times bestseller list doesn’t even list it anymore (otherwise, it would always be at the top). That source is the 66 books of the library known as The Bible.
I have not come across a better definitinon anywhere than the one given in the “First Letter to the Corinthians,” by the Apostle Paul. What many people do not understand is that the apostle was writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In effect, what Paul has given us is God’s view of true love. This love is the love that was built into us. We don’t know why, but all of us long for true love. We are moved by romantic movies and brought to tears when the handsome prince sweeps the servant girl up in his arms and proposes to her. Why? What’s being touched inside us? Our response, if our hearts are still soft, come from deep within, from the place where we are made in the image of the God who has declared Himself to be LOVE.
“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16, ESV) [emphasis mine]
Love and the Creator of agape love are intimately indivisible. So what does God list as the characteristics of true love?
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” (1 Corinthians 13:1–8, ESV)
More specifically,God says, through Paul, that true love is:
- More important than language (human and spiritual)
- More important than supernatural attributes like:
- prophetic powers
- understanding of all mysteries and all knowledge
- More important than faith
- More important than charity and sacrificial giving
- Glad to see the best for others
- Gracious, and well-mannered
- Not self-seeking; does not insist on its own way; lays down its life for the other
- Not irritable
- Not resentful
- Does not take joy in what is wrong or in the suffering of others
- Joyful with what is true
- Willing to bear all things (carries the load)
- Willing to believe the best in every situation
- Always hopeful
- Always persevering, enduring
- Everlasting, never-ending
Impossible? No, this description defines true love . . . and this love really exists. But the only way we can love in this way is if our hearts are transformed by the God, who created us to love in this way. He is the One who can heal us to love deeply from the heart.
In Him, all our damage can be healed. We can be delivered from self and filled with His Spirit of love. If true love is possible, would you want to live even another minute without experiencing what you were created for?
This is the love God has for us. And this is the love He floods our life with . . . if we’re open. And if we’re willing to invite Him into the center of our love and affection. If so, He fits us to be filled with divine love–agape–and loves others through us.
I can tell you–from having experienced love apart from Him, and true love for another with Him at the center–that there is no comparison.
Because God has loved me, I can now love selflessly with the love I have recieved from Him.
My wife loves Jesus first and loves me with the love that fills her life from Him. This is a love beyond human effort. This is the same love God loves me with. And by it, I am healed and whole. This is true love and after 33years of marriage, it unfolds to be deeper every day.
I hope that you will not settle for less than is possible. I hope you are better able to recognize and evaluate what kind of love you are giving and receiving.
QUESTION: Have you given or received true love? Tell us about it.
- Lust, Love, or TRUE Love? (davidcalves.com)