“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
The word “love” used by Paul is “agape”. Agape love is a self-sacrificing love. It is the same love used to describe Christ as He hung upon the cross for our sins. It is a love that does not change. It is self-giving and does not expect anything in return. “The word has little to do with emotion; it has much to do with self-denial for the sake of others.” (David Guziak, Blue Letter Bible) Love is not something we feel, it is something we do. Love is action, not reaction. Love is solid and withstands, it does not wither at the slightest heat. Love is more than feeling; love is a willingness to persevere and work through whatever comes its way.
So many of our children are tossed into a world where love is based off of emotion. We get those fuzzy feelings and think we must be in love. So we jump head first into a relationship without really understanding what love is. How much easier my marriage would have been if someone would have explained what love was before I got married! It wasn’t until I took the “Love test” that I began to fully understand and was able to walk out love before my husband.
The “Love Test” is not to determine if you are loveable or even if you can love, it is taken to show you what Love truly is and how we are to act it out. I believe every person getting married or in a relationship should take this test and understand what love is before they even consider saying “I do”. For those of us who are currently married, this is a good test to take to show us how we can love our husbands the way Christ desires us to. But this “Love Test” is not only for those of us in relationships. It is for us as Christians as well, to show us how to love our brethren, the way Christ loves us.
The first step is to replace the word “love” with your name. Instead of “love suffers long and is kind,” say your name along with “suffers long and is kind.” Do you suffer long and are you kind? To suffer long is the opposite of anger. It means that you have a quality of self-restraint when provoked. Longsuffering means that you do not retaliate, but show mercy. If you suffer long and show mercy, kindness follows. John Chrystostem said, in regards to love being kind, “is used of the man who is wronged, and who easily has the power to avenge himself, but will not do it out of mercy and patience.” How many times have we, in our marriages and relationships been wronged and we wanted to punish or lash out at the person who hurt us. We give the cold shoulder to our husbands, or speak things that are hurtful, just so that we can make them feel our pain. Love does not do this. Love suffers the wrongs it has been dealt and returns it with kindness. Do you suffer long and are you kind in your relationships?
Next in our test we see that “love does not envy”. Do you envy? To envy means to burn with jealousy and can also mean to be covetous. Do you want something you can’t have? Do you see the success and well being of others and think that you are entitled to the same? Clarke writes that those who love “are ever willing that others should be preferred before them.” Love does not want to be in the front all the time, it does not see a sister get honored and become jealous, but rejoices for her. Love does not envy the fact that you work twice as hard as your husband, yet make half the salary. Love does not envy, do you?
The second part of the love test moves from telling us what Love is not to what love does. It moves from description to action. Here, we place our name and say, “does not behave rudely.” I have met some rude people in my life, and some of them Christians. They speak offensively, all in jest, of course, and say things that are inappropriate. I myself have said and done some offensive things, so no one is perfect. But, to be a Christian we must learn that where there is to be love, there are to be good manners as well. Love does not behave rudely, and neither should we.
Love “is not easily provoked”. This was and is a hard one for me, especially in my marriage. Sometimes he just makes me so mad, that I want to scream. But love does not allow others to provoke them. Love is not easily irritated or roused in anger towards another. “When the man who possesses this love gives way to provocation, he loses the balance of his soul, and grieves the Spirit of God…surely if he gets embittered against his neighbor, he does not love him as himself.” (Clarke, Blue Letter Bible) Allowing others to provoke me to anger, instead of showing mercy and kindness is not what love would do. Love would wait and breathe, pray and rely on the Lord to give us a heart ready to forgive. Are you easily provoked?
Love “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth”. Love does not find itself happy when someone messes up, or sins. Love wants the best for others at all times. Love seeks to know the truth of any situation. It does not laugh at the faults of others, but seeks only their good, and seeks to show them the truth. No man is perfect, and love accepts that and rejoices that Jesus is perfect, and in Him all unrighteousness is made righteous.
The last part of the love test is the hardest of all. Charles Spurgeon calls these four virtues “loves four companions”. Love, “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Love bears all things. All means all; there is no exception to the word all. It encompasses everything and everyone. Love will hide and excuse the errors and faults of others. 1 Peter 4:8 tells us that “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Love believes; it gives others the benefit of the doubt. “Love stands in the presence of a fault, with a finger on her lip.” (Spurgeon) Love hopes for the best, believes in the best and desires to persevere under the trials and tribulations of every circumstance. Love is willing to stand beside its spouse, brother or sister and say, “I am with you, because I will bear with you, I believe in you, I have hope in God for you, and I will endure whatever comes our way with you.” Love does not give up and it does not give in.