Countdown: T-79 — What is true love?

Is there anyone in your life you are struggling to get along with? How about someone who makes your blood pressure rise seemingly every time you’re together? Or maybe there’s someone you know who feels that way about you! What can you do about it?

I once read of a person who had a rough time with a guy at work. He asked a godly man he knew for advice on how to confront his coworker, and the fellow told him, “Read 1 Corinthians 13 every morning before you head to work for a month, then come talk to me.”

The story goes that the fellow came back a month later with the tremendous news that the relationship had greatly improved to the point that the two coworkers were getting along very well. They hadn’t become best buds, but they were truly enjoying each other’s company. And what’s incredible is that the confrontation was completely avoided–love made all the difference.

But what is love? And is that just a story, or can love actually have that tremendous an impact on your relationships? What does 1 Corinthians 13 say, anyway?


If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

Eloquence does not equate to love. Good communication is a necessary part of love, but excellent speech–the language of angels!–can happen without love. Saying the right thing does not guarantee you are loving.

If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.

Spirituality and religion do not equate to love. Being in touch with God is a necessary part of love, but religion and even miraculous actions can happen without love. Being a great church person does not automatically mean you are loving.

If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Giving to others, even to the point of sacrificing yourself, does not equate to love. Of course, giving is a part of love, but people give to each other all the time without love. Being a very giving person is not particularly a sign of love.

Love is patient

Now we learn what love is! Love is waiting on others and forbearing with them. Love is working slowly and quietly and without agitation with that person who just does not get it. Love does not yell at its children.

and kind.

Love is nice to other people. Love does good things for others, unprompted. Love keeps on being kind, even when the other person is unlovely.

Love is not jealous

Love does not view others as rivals. Love doesn’t try to get one up on others. Love doesn’t have negative emotions about other’s successes; rather, love rejoices for others in their accomplishments and helps them along.

or boastful

Love doesn’t brag, either with words or actions or things. Love doesn’t make a show of itself. Love never says “I told you so.”

or proud

Love doesn’t have itself as number one. Love isn’t seeking for fame. Love is humble, recognizing that all things come from God, understanding that all people are in the same boat together.

Love does not think its tribe or family or nation or [insert anything] is bigger or better or smarter than the different one because [that thing] is its thing. Love is others-oriented.

or rude.

Love says “Thank you” (not Yep!); “You’re welcome” (not Uh-huh); “Please” (not I’ll take one); “I’m sorry. I was wrong.” (Not My bad.); “Please forgive me” (not Oops); “Sure, come on over” (not Sigh… How about scheduling that next month?)–You get the picture.

Love doesn’t publicly belch or pass gas or make other bodily noises. Love doesn’t chew with an open mouth or interrupt or bump into other or reach across others. Love doesn’t shout or whisper or mumble or shriek. Love is just plain nice.

Love reads a book on social etiquette* and follows it. Love minds its manners.
[*If you feel a sudden impulse to bash books on social etiquette, I posit that you are missing the point of etiquette… and of love.]

It does not demand its own way.

Love is okay with doing things someone else’s way. Love doesn’t insist on “my way or the highway.” Love doesn’t make demands. Love follows.

It is not irritable,

Love does not have bad Mondays. Love does not get grouchy. Love is not moody. Love is not the weather; love is the climate.

Love is not Eeyore or Rabbit. Love is not a Choleric or a Melancholy (or whatever the vogue personality/temperament label is).

and it keeps no record of being wronged.

Love forgives.

Love forgives and forgets.

Love keeps on loving, even after it was fooled twice and burned (or whatever other saying you want to weave in).

It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

Love is grieved over injustice. Love’s greatest joy is the truth–that’s one reason love and God are synonymous.

Love never gives up,

Wow. Those who endure to the end…

Love keeps on loving. Love doesn’t leave. Love fights for the relationship. Love is not content to let a broken relationship carry on. Love tries.

never loses faith,

Love keeps its eyes on God. Love knows that all things work together for good for those who are called according to God’s purposes. Love keeps going regardless whether the road is rocky and steep, muddy and deep, or flowery sunshine because love knows what’s at the end of the road.

is always hopeful,

Love keeps watering long after the plant has withered. Love keeps trying long after it’s apparent the other party isn’t interested in reconciliation. Love expects things to get better even though statistics say they probably won’t.

Love is an optimist.

and endures through every circumstance.

There is nothing love is not willing to go through. Love will do anything–anything!–for others.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

Everything we know on earth is incomplete at best. Our greatest achievements, the sum total of mankind’s knowledge, everything is ultimately useless outside of true love. Nothing matters without love.

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.

Love is the grown-up thing to do. (Is this a stretch?)

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

We are imperfect. We can’t love like this on our own. We’re selfish and hateful and obnoxious and all manner of nasty things. And God knows that.

But God, He is love! And we can have Him change us into His likeness. Only one person has ever loved perfectly in the way this Chapter teaches; that man was Jesus.

We have all [hated] and fallen short of God’s glory. But God loved us so much that He sent Jesus, who loved us so much He gave His life in love for us. And He sent us His Spirit. To those who believe, He has promised power to be free from sin, power to love like He does.

This Love Chapter is such a small snapshot out of the whole picture of what love is–or Who love is! You’ve really got to read the whole Book and meet the Author to truly know what love is, but this Chapter gives us an excellent summary.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:1-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬


P.S. Read this Chapter first thing every day for a month, then let me know what happened with your relationships. I am genuinely interested.