Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

true love Archive



March 2023

Love is a verb, part 3

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Charity never faileth: (1 Corinthians 13:8) | Read more of Love is a Verb part 3 on hopereflected.com

What love does and does not do

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul wrote about the characteristics of love. He explained what love does and does not do, and what love is and isn’t. Called “charity” in the original translation, Paul explained in verse 6 that “charity… Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;”. Here we see a very clear example of what love does not do. Real love does not take pleasure in the pain of others.

What immediately comes to mind is Proverbs 24:17, which tells us, “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, And let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:”. The exact opposite of rejoicing, love grieves when it sees harm come to its object. Matthew Henry said, “It is the very height of malice to take pleasure in the misery of a fellow-creature. And is not falling into sin the greatest calamity that can befall one? How inconsistent is it with Christian charity, to rejoice at such a fall!”

Love rejoices in the truth

On the contrary, love “…rejoiceth in the truth;” (1 Corinthians 13:6). There is great joy in the truth. Here, the truth specifically refers to God’s Word and His way. Jesus said that “narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:14), so what greater joy than to be walking in the truth and to see others walking along the narrow way as well. God is love, and we are only capable of love because of Him, so it makes sense then that the greatest rejoicing comes when we are walking with Him.

Love bears, believes, hopes, endures all things

Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians continues, “charity… Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” (v. 7). A companion to the long-suffering we read of in verse 4, love bears all things. The greatest example of patience, love carries on and is unceasing regardless of the circumstances. One of the reasons marriages are failing and society is disintegrating is that we are looking in all the wrong places for love, instead of looking to God first.

Without God, we are destined to fail, especially in love. Alistair Begg wrote, “Contrary to public opinion, the key to loving others does not lie in loving ourselves, but in loving God.” Spurgeon put it like this: “Love does not ask to have an easy life of it: Self-love makes that her aim. Love denies herself, sacrifices herself, that she may win victories for God, and hers shall be no tinsel crown.”

“Love does not ask to have an easy life of it:
Self-love makes that her aim.
Love denies herself, sacrifices herself, that she may win victories for God,
and hers shall be no tinsel crown.”

Charles Spurgeon

Love never fails; God never fails

God never fails. Read more of Love is a Verb part 3 on hopereflected.com

The only way to bear all is when we cast our cares on Him. The only way to believe all is when our faith rests in Him. The only way to hope all is we know the Living Hope. The only way to endure all is through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The last of the 16 characteristics of love is “Charity never faileth:” (v. 8). Everything else will fail but love never fails. God never fails. As Spurgeon said, “God writes with a pen that never blots, speaks with a tongue that never slips, acts with a hand that never fails.”

Read parts 1 and 2 of Love is a verb here

Originally published as “Love is a verb, part 3.” Independent Plus. March 2, 2023: 5. Print. Web.



February 2023

Love is a verb, part 2

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Facts about love. Read more on hopereflected.com

This past week I read in 1 John 3:22-23, “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”

Love is an action word

As I wrote in part 1 of Love is a verb, love is an action word; it is very much something that we do. Studying the characteristics of “charity” (love) described in 1 Corinthians 13, it’s important to note that love is a commandment from God.

Love is not rude

Love is not rude. "Charity doth not behave itself unseemly." (1 Corinthians 13:5) Read more on hopereflected.com

“Charity… Doth not behave itself unseemly,” (1 Corinthians 13:5). This portion is translated from the Greek ouk aschemonei and literally means to behave in an unbecoming manner. In other words, love doesn’t act in a manner that is unbecoming or contrary to itself. Love is not rude, and love doesn’t degrade or humiliate others.

Matthew Henry wrote of this characteristic of love: “It does nothing out of place or time; but behaves towards all men as becomes their rank and ours, with reverence and respect to superiors, with kindness and condescension to inferiors, with courtesy and good-will towards all men. It is not for breaking order, confounding ranks bringing all men on a level; but for keeping up the distinction God has made between men, and acting decently in its own station, and minding its own business, without taking upon it to mend, or censure, or despise, the conduct of others. Charity will do nothing that misbecomes it.”

Love is not selfish

Love is not selfish. "Charity seeketh not her own." (1 Corinthians 13:5) Read more on hopereflected.com

“Charity… seeketh not her own,” (1 Corinthians 13:5). One of the marks of love is that it doesn’t demand its own way or seek its own benefit. Love is not selfish, as Matthew Henry suggested love is an utter enemy to selfishness. Just as love does not dishonour, love also seeks to honour others above itself. This recalls the second commandment, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matthew 22:39).

Love requires that we uproot that rotten plant pride, and instead of putting ourselves at the center, we look out for others. The J-O-Y principle: Jesus first, Others second, Yourself third.

Love is not easily angered

Love is not easily angered. "Charity is not easily provoked." (1 Corinthians 13:5) Read more on hopereflected.com

“Charity… is not easily provoked,” (1 Corinthians 13:5). From the Greek ou paroxynetai, meaning “is not exasperated”. Soft rather than sharp, love keeps a quick temper at bay. Two fires can’t burn together, so where love is aflame, a fiery temper won’t burn.

Love keeps no record of wrongs

Love keeps no record of wrongs. "Charity thinketh no evil." (1 Corinthians 13:5) Read more on hopereflected.com

“Charity… thinketh no evil;” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Love keeps no record of being wrong. Just as love is an enemy to selfishness, love is also an enemy of dishonesty, of jealousy, and of revenge. To show love, we must practice honesty instead of dishonesty, admiration rather than jealousy, and forgiveness rather than revenge. Real love, it turns out, is not always easy to practice.

As C.S. Lewis wrote, “…love as distinct from ‘being in love’ is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will, and deliberately strengthened by habit, reinforced by the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God.”

Originally published as “Love is a verb, part 2.” Independent Plus. February 16, 2023: 5. Print. Web.



February 2023

Love is a verb

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Love and pride cannot live together, because love is not about you and how you feel; love is concerned with how the other person feels. Read more of "Love is a verb" on hopereflected.com

The true measure of love is shown through action

Anyone can say the words, “I love you,” but the true measure of love is shown through action. Love is a verb. For those who are not well-versed in grammar, a verb is a word that shows action.

When we describe love as merely a feeling, we are reducing what love really is. We’re missing the deeper meaning. While feeling is certainly a part of love, action is love’s other—more demonstrable—counterpart.

Characteristics of love from 1 Corinthians 13

Take chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians, for example. If Paul had written this chapter by describing the feeling of love, rather than the action of love, how much different would “the love chapter” read? The abstract tends not to have the same impact as the concrete, and I’d venture to say the impact just wouldn’t be as strong.

Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 includes 16 characteristics of charity, or what we today call love. In the original Greek, the word was agape, used to describe love, benevolence, preference. The 16 characteristics of love that Paul described are as follows: “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth:” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

Love suffers long

The Greek word for “suffereth long” is makrothymei, meaning to persevere, be patient, and refusing to retaliate with anger. The best example of this is Christ. Peter described our Lord that he “is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9).

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis called such long-suffering God “holding back” to give us the opportunity to choose Him. And while our ability to love can never compare to God’s, that is one of the things that true love does. Love holds back and does not retaliate even when it’s been wronged. Someone cannot love and be vengeful at the same time.

Love is not puffed up

Another characteristic of love that stands out is that love “vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,” (v. 4). Love and pride cannot live together, because love is not about you and how you feel; when you love someone, you’re concerned with how the other person feels. It’s what Paul wrote in Philippians 2:3-4, that in lowliness of mind we should esteem others better than ourselves. Matthew Henry explained that true love will “prevent the tumours of self-conceit and arrogance. These ill qualities can never grow out of tender affection…” and we should mark the man who uses what he calls love as a platform to build himself up and to tear others down.

Originally published as “Love is a verb.” Independent Plus. February 9, 2023: 5. Print. Web.



November 2017

Hope Reflected | Loving Others, Even When It’s Hard

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"Be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2 | See more at hopereflected.com

Loving Others, Even When It’s Hard

Chances are that at some point in your life, you’ve read the “love” chapter in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13. We usually hear 1 Corinthians 13 quoted or recited at weddings, anniversaries, or other happy occasions. But what about loving others, even when it’s hard?

This world is filled with difficult people, and if each of us were honest, we’d all have to admit that sometimes in life we are actually the difficult ones. Loving others even when it’s hard or when they’re being difficult can be extremely trying, can’t it? The good news is that it’s possible, because God first loved us. Because God first loved us, we’re equipped with the capacity to love others.

How do we love others, even when it’s hard? Let’s look at some practical instruction from 1 Corinthians 13.

Love others by being patient. “Love suffers long and is kind.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) In most areas of life, when you have patience, you will have peace. Loving others, even when it’s hard, means guarding your reactions. It means exercising patience towards those who have difficult personalities. When you’re being patient, you’re less likely to speak out of turn; you’re less likely to add fuel to the fire; and you’re more likely to act with integrity and kindness, and as a result better understand where the other person is coming from.

Love others by being humble. “Love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) Comparison is the thief of joy, and the sooner we learn to water the grass in our own yard rather than seeking “greener” pastures, the better off we’ll be. You may be tempted to “win” the argument, you may really want to have the last word, but part of loving others means being humble and taking the high road – even when it’s hard. And man oh man, can it ever be hard sometimes! Through it all however, we’re called to love by being completely humble.

Love others by being kind. “Love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) It costs nothing to be kind. And while our initial reaction may be to speak out of turn and return bitter barb with bitter barb, the Lord will bless you for taking the high road. Even when it’s hard, we can each demonstrate love to others by being kind. Sometimes being kind means taking time or stepping away, and it also means taking time to pray for others. You might think it’s impossible, especially when someone else is being everything but kind to you, and when that’s the case, prayer can have a huge impact. With God nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37), and when you take the time to pray for others, God has a way of making kindness that much easier.

Love others by wanting what’s best for them. “Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:6) When you love others, you want what’s best for them and genuinely have their best interest at heart. Especially when someone has been unkind or hurtful, it can be tempting to rejoice when they run into difficulties or when they’re proved wrong, but just like we’re told in Proverbs 25:21-22, the Lord sees when we give to those who only give us grief and He will use it for His glory.

Love others by bearing with them. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7) 1 Corinthians 13:7 is a challenge. Love bears all things – not just good things, not just convenient things – love bears all things. That includes difficulties and it includes hard times. We show our love to others by bearing with them. Proverbs 17:17 says that, “a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” We are called to love others, not just in happy times, but in sad times. Not just in easy times, but in adverse times.

Ephesians 4:2 sums up the love described in 1 Corinthians 13 like this: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient bearing with one another in love.” When we’re trying to love others even when it’s hard, remember this: We know true love and we can love because Jesus Christ laid down His life so we might have life (1 John 3:16-18).

Originally published as “Loving others, even when it’s hard.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. October 26, 2017: 7. Print. Web.



February 2017

Hope Reflected | Love

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hope reflected love

Ah, love. February, long touted as “the month of love”, can be a sensitive time of year for some people. You know, you get those who say they don’t care about Valentine’s Day or commercial holidays; there are those who say that they don’t want flowers and they don’t eat chocolate; and there are those who say that they’d rather their significant other demonstrate love randomly on some other day of the year. There’s also the growing popularity of “Galentine’s Day”, (which started thanks to Amy Poehler in an episode of “Parks and Rec”), a day dedicated to celebrating love with your girlfriends.

As a traditional romantic, I love the idea of flowers and love letters and I’m thankful to be married to and in love with a man who also believes that love should be celebrated throughout the entire year.

The interesting thing about human love is that it’s conditional. Notice how the popular dictionaries define love, “arising from” or “based on” certain criteria being met. Human love is conditional because we base our love on our feelings – and we all know that feelings change. Have you ever heard of couples who, “fell out of love” or “lost that feeling”? Marriage requires a more firm foundation than that of one based on “feelings”.

On our wedding day, one of the best pieces of advice that Wes and I received – besides “happy wife, happy life” – was that to maintain a fulfilled and true marriage, we need to remember that our love is an act of our will. Even in the moments when you don’t “feel” like it, you’ve got to will yourself to love the other person. We can’t do it without God. I’m thankful for a husband who shares that foundation.

While I cherish Wes, his love, and his will, I also am thankful for the love of my Heavenly Father, who loves me unconditionally; Who’s love for me isn’t based on feelings or emotions. So how does God’s love differ from our human love?

  1. God’s love is unconditional. “God is love.” 1 John 4:8 God’s love is unconditional because God is love. He doesn’t love us because of how we make Him feel or something we did for Him; God loves us because God is love. Think about it.
  2. God’s love is giving. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 Another attribute of God’s love is His generosity. He sent his only Son to die on the cross so that we can have eternal life. There was nothing we did or said that could have influenced this. John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” We didn’t do anything to deserve this; He did everything. As it is written in 1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
  3. God’s love is ours. “Let us love one another, for love is of God…In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” 1 John 4:7, 9 God’s love is a free gift that’s available to anyone and everyone who believes in Him. All we have to do is acknowledge Christ as our Lord and Saviour, and accept His gift of love. “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:15-16)

If you’re looking for love, the best place to start is a relationship with God. Only He will love you wholly, unconditionally, and no matter what. He will encourage you and uplift you, and provide for you in ways beyond anything you can ask or think. God will love you more in a moment than anyone can in a lifetime. Spoken from experience, you can search the world over and try to fill your life with people, activities, and “stuff”, but nothing can compare to the love that God has for you, and nothing can fill that place in your heart like our Heavenly Father can.

Originally published as “Love.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. February 9, 2017: 7. Print.