All You Need is Love: Eight Things Agape Love is NOT
Don't you love it when God reveals something new in His Word, especially when it is a passage you thought you knew so well?
I was reading 1 Corintihians 13 recently and had a new "aha"...
I bet most of you could recite the first few words of I Corinthians 13: " Love is patient, Love is kind (1Cor.13:4)...
Immediatley following those two "Love IS" words, there begins a list of "Love is NOT..." descriptions. Paul lists eight things Love is NOT before closing with six more things Love IS.
Why does Paul shift from describing Love as a positive - ie, patient and kind to listing eight ways how NOT to Love? One reason might be because, in our humanness, we can relate more to how NOT to Love. We are so aware of how on our own accord, we fall short at Loving.
Here are the eight ways Paul says that we should NOT behave if we want to Love as God desires, as God Loves (1Cor.13:4-6):
Love is NOT jealous or envious.
Love is NOT boastful or conceited.
Love is NOT proud or arrogant.
Love is NOT rude.
Love is NOT selfish.
Love is NOT irritable or quick tempered.
Love does NOT keep a record of wrongs that others do.
Love is NOT happy with evil or unrighteousness.
Reflecting on these eight "NOTs", I am convicted of the ways that I fall short and need to break free from my imperfect love for others and self. I am convicted of my imperfect ability to show love as Paul describes. I am often rude and selfish. I can be easily angered and irritable.
But maybe, that was Paul's point?
If we want to love others as God desires, we need to recognize our need for God to fill our hearts and soul with His Love. To Love from Above!
Paul closes his description on Love by sharing with us six descriptions of what Love IS (1Cor13:6-8):
Love IS happy with the Truth.
Love IS accepting of all things.
Love IS trusting and believing.
Love IS hopeful.
Love IS enduring and persevering in all things.
Love IS eternal.
Which list do you identify with more?
Paul catches our attention by first describing a love we all desire from others and have from God - patience and kindness. He then dives into all the ways we fall short of loving apart from God and then ending with the ways God showers His Love on us as a perfect example.
Paul is telling us to first clean up our heart, be aware of our human shortcomings that get in the way of love. Then, apply Truth to grow in Godly love.
The type of Love that Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13 is AGAPE love. Agape love involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of our will. It is unconcerned with self and not driven by feelings and emotions. It is quite different from brotherly (philia) love or romantic (eros) love. Agape love is always shown by what it does for others. It seeks to "love one another earnestly from a pure heart." (1 Peter 1:22) Agape love is God's love for us and how we want to ideally love ALL others.
As we are reminded in our reading of 1 Corinthians 13 - Agape love does not come natural to us. It is only with the help of God's Spirit that we can love in this way.