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Real (Unconditional) Love

Love is patient, love is kind.
Love does not envy,
is not boastful, is not conceited,
does not act improperly,
is not selfish, is not provoked,
and does not keep a record of wrongs.
Love finds no joy in unrighteousness
but rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.
-1 Corinthians 13:47 (HCSB)
Photo: Pixabay

I was thinking about unconditional love.  I would say that that is what these verses above are about, so I chose them.  If God is love and Jesus came to display God's love, then sends us to love one another and be on his mission of loving a lost world, then we need to learn unconditional love.

I see eight characteristics of what real love is and eight things that it does not do.  Eight "yes, yes's", and eight, "no, no's".  These sixteen items are "love checkers".

We say we love, but let us examine that love to see if it is the love of God in us, or just the "feels good" kind of love.  If I say, "I love chocolate", or, "I love the Star Wars movies", or, "I love to go swimming", it is not the same kind of love that 1 Corinthians 13 is about, and if that is the same way you feel or experience love for a person, then you need to discover and grow into what godly love is all about.

Did you catch that?  We're all growing up into being like Jesus, who loves unconditionally.  If you are a Christian, that's your life.  Loving people as a Christian, goes far beyond selfish, sensual, me-centered love.

The 8 "Yes's" of Real Love:
  1. Love is patient.  Real, true love waits.  Impatience is a sign of lack of love.  If you deem that another person is "slow" or "late", which perhaps they are, you still love them.  You don't withdraw your love when people are slow or late. 
  2. Love is kind.  Kindness is being considerate and gracious, benevolent and merciful, friendly and generous.
  3. Love rejoices in the truth.  Love is not denial.  Authentic love is all about the truth.  Authentic love is not living in illusion, but wants the truth; the good and the bad.  To embrace the good, we have to know that the bad is there too.  The truth is that God redeems and saves.  The truth sets us free.  So love is always, "eyes wide open" to the truth and dreams of God's truth that goes far beyond human reason.  Authentic love is not "kumbaya" (naively optimistic), but is completely sold out on God's love and the truth in Jesus Christ.
  4. Loves bears all things.  This means that you "bear it".  It is the opposite of, "I can't bear it any longer".  God bears with us.  Will we bear with one another.  We will if we've got real love.
  5. Love believes all things.  Love is always eager to believe the best about someone.  Love is always open to a good report.  There is an open door in the heart of real love towards people.
  6. Love hopes all things.  Real love does not give up on people.  Real love says there is always hope.  Real love gives people second chances, over and over and over; always having hope for them.
  7. Love endures all things.  Real love goes through things with people.  Real love endures the hardship of another person's ways.  Real love undergoes suffering from others.  This real love goes through it.
  8. Love never ends.  This love from God that we live in is something that is not only from God, but continues.  There is no limit to it in our lives now and it continues in our everlasting lives.  Authentic love is a resource that we never run out of, and it is never used up.  We continually experience coming to the ends of our self and getting more of God's love, that we live out of.
The 8 "no's" of Real Love:
  1. Real love does not envy.  There is no jealousy in authentic love.  Envy and jealousy are ways of the world.  The child of God has God's love.  When you have authentic love, it is rooted in God's love for you and all you want is for everyone to experience God's love.  We are not jealous of others, because we know God as Father who loves us and gives us all good things, starting with his love.  Any envy of others' things (cars, houses, granite counters), or others' relationships, or positions, is outside of our relationship with God.  A person in God is rooted in God's love and we need to cultivate that love.  Only God can satisfy.  Envy and jealousy is a dead end.  As we grow in real love, jealousy and envy fade to nothing.
  2. Real love is not boastful.  Bragging is a way of the world.  Praising your self is not the way of love.  The proverb says, "Let another one praise you, and not with your own lips".  Real love can brag on others, but not boast about one's self.  When God blesses you and uses you, do not boast in your self, but boast in (about) God.  "Great God of man", not, "Great man of God", is what you always want to be about.  We can let people thank us, honor us, and praise us for our service and obedience; but not idolize us or worship us, or try to make us king!  Come down, sit down, kneel, lay prostrate; whatever it takes so that you don't take the credit for what God does.
  3. Real love is not conceited.  Real love is not puffed up, it does not ever have an inflated idea about one's self.  No way.  We can get delusional about our selves.  Just like bragging, conceit is the opposite of love.  Be careful of arrogance.  You may know the Bible, know theology, know psychological concepts, you may know business principles, and you may know how to build and maintain something.  The proverb says that "Knowledge puffs up".  Real love serves others patiently in love.  Arrogance and telling others how it is, or else, is not authentic love.  Knowledgeable people need to learn Jesus' style, who is not puffed up, arrogant, or conceited.
  4. Real love does not act improperly.  Acting improperly means "being a jerk".  It means "dishonorable".  When a person in the military continually behaves improperly, they will eventually be, perhaps after other disciplinary action, "dishonorably discharged".  Improper conduct is when we look good on the outside, but we act bad from a bad heart: unloving.  Real love acts properly (loving towards others).  Dishonorable acting is rudeness.  Real love is not rude.
  5. Real love is not selfish.  When someone does not have God's love flowing through their life, when they are not living out of that love; the one word that often describes that person is, "selfish".  A "me first" attitude is selfish.  An organizing principle of life that looks at every relationship or opportunity as, "what's in it for me?" is not God's love operating in your life.  This person always thinks of themself.  Their song is, "I was always on my mind".  They serve themselves and seek themselves.  Real love is not selfish.  The Christian life, the life in Christ, is a life of denying and dying to self.
  6. Real love is not provoked.  Being irritable, touchy, or having a short fuse/temper is not real love.  Let that go, set that down.  Each of these are the unloving way.  Easily angered people see the problem as being outside them, saying that others provoke them.  The truth is, that if you have more authentic love operating in your life, you will not be easily angered.
  7. Love does not keep a record of wrongs.  Unforgiveness is completely incompatible with Christian love.  It blocks it and stops is.  Authentic love does not keep records, memories, lists, of offenses or have resentments.  This is super good news, because this means that the Christian is free from all bitterness.  Resentments or records or wrongs are simply not permitted, in Christ.  You do not get to or have to or need to do that, and therefore, you also do not need to, get to, or have to be bitter.
  8. Real love finds no joy in unrighteousness.  If you ever take pleasure in another person's misfortune, you are not living in God's authentic love.  We never take pleasure in the demise of others.  Even when the other person has been bad to us, the heart of God in us does not rejoice in their falling or failing.
The reason I am looking at this and the reason I think this is in the Bible, is to show us how to love.  There is the "how to" and the "that ain't it".  The second lists are the "incompatibles" that need to de-emphasized or gotten rid of.  We just are not like that, in Christ.  So, say goodbye to that style and embrace Jesus' style, His life in your life.

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