Love: the Key Ingredient

Physical connection…That’s what some people believe strong love is. There are parts of this that are true…making time and making effort produces strong love, but a key element is missing from this equation. If this element is absent, love becomes whatever you want it to be…all the while, it’s not really love at all.

Last post, we concentrated on the Truth that “…GOD is love” (1 John 4:8) and that the Greek word for “love” in this verse is the exact same word that’s used in 1 Corinthians 13:1– “agapé.” GOD is the missing piece to the equation above!! When we read about love in both of these verses, we’re really reading about GOD–and what HE prefers, which is what “agapé” (love) means. If God is missing from someone’s definition of love, according to the truths of God’s Word, it’s not true love.

Today, we’re going to dive into the next verses of 1 Corinthians 13, Verses 4-6. In these verses, we see what love is and what it isn’t. Again, please don’t ditch this post, because you’ve read and studied these verses so many times!! God’s directed me to dig into these verses, and my prayer is that something new stands out to you, as it has to me. Hang with me!

The word for love in Verse 4 is agapaó. You can, obviously, see it’s related to agapé, yet there’s a big difference between the two words. Agapé is a noun that identifies Who God IS. Agapaó is a verb, which requires action; it’s embodying what God prefers and obeying it…living it out, practicing it. God enables us to do these things through the power of His Spirit.

Agapao is a verb, which requires action; it’s embodying what God prefers and obeying it…living it out, practicing it. God enables us to do these things through the power of His Spirit.

Let’s sit with this Truth for a minute…These things listed in 1 Corinthians 13–what we should and shouldn’t do–aren’t things we can do by ourselves or in our own strength; they’re, also, not things we can keep from doing without the power of His Spirit, assisting us! Galatians 5:22 uses the word “agapé” and makes it clear that love is a product of partnering, cooperating with the Spirit of God. This makes sense, since it’s Who He Is! Love is produced when we comply with what God prefers, and He, in turn, enables us, through His Spirit to actively do it. So, with that, let’s see what He prefers and what He’ll give us the power to do, if we readily cooperate with Him.

  • Be slow to retaliate in expressions of anger, driven by passion (i.e., patience controlled by God). The Greek word used in 1 Corinthians 13:4 for this is makrothumeó, which is the verbal form of the noun, makrothumia, found in Galatians 5:22. In Galatians, we see this listed in the character traits of God, which His Spirit produces in us with our cooperation (aka fruits of the Spirit). The active form of this character is intensely and passionately acting against sin, but not sinning in the process. It’s displaying patience when others offend or hurt you, being unhurried at “getting back at them.” I, personally, have had a hard time with this one in my life and have desperately walked step after step toward Him, learning to cooperate more with Him, wanting this part of my life to change. I’ve seen His good work in me first-hand! I do take steps back now and then, but He is faithful to continue this journey with me and give me this ability, when I cooperate!
  • Compassionately serve others in a useful, productive way. When we think of useful and productive, we may first think of what we see (effects or end-products); however, useful and productive may also be unseen (eternal), and how we respond to someone can lead him or her toward OR away from Christ. Sometimes, serving others can mean acting kindly out of forgiveness, when someone doesn’t deserve it. Again, the Greek word for this in 1 Corinthians 13:4 is related to the word used in Galatians 5:22; they both come from the Greek word chréstos, and the one in 1 Corinthians is the verbal (active) form of what is found in Galatians 5. Again, we see that God is wanting us to willingly and actively embody His character in our lives.
  • Pinpoint and name God’s blessings in our lives as truth and share them with others, so we can, together, rejoice in freely receiving God’s favor.
Does this come easily to you, or is it hard?
If it’s hard, do you make a point to sit with Him in quiet and think about what He’s done for you that day or given you? Are you making a point to call His blessings what they are–truly from Him, or are you blowing them off as “happenstances?”
If it’s easy and you do it often, are you sharing God’s blessings in your life with others? Do you find that they’re excited with you, or not? If not, how does that make you feel? Does it make you want to continue to share those things with others? If someone shares God’s blessings, that they’ve experienced in their lives, with you, are you getting excited and celebrating God with them?

No matter how others respond, we’re responsible for us. That’s hard! We can’t use them as an excuse for opposing God in our actions. (Duly noted!) We need to focus our hearts and minds on Who God is–true love–and willingly, actively cooperate with Him, letting Him show Himself to others through us, as He enables us to look more and more like Him.

We’ll pick up in Verse 7 in the next post, continuing on with what love IS. Until then, would you share a true blessing from God in your life? I want to celebrate Him and what He’s doing in your life with you!

“Love each other as I have loved you. This is what I’m commanding you to do.”

~ Jesus, John 15:12 GWT

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