What Is Love?

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8

Reading this familiar passage may make you remember a time when a preacher shared it during a marriage ceremony. But relegating this passage to love between a husband and wife does it a disservice. The love Paul speaks of is much greater and much deeper than romantic love—it represents the kind of love God has for his children.

If we look at the life of Jesus and superimpose it over this passage, we see that Jesus personified every word. He was patient and kind. He didn’t envy. He emptied himself, humbling himself to the point of death on a cross. He didn’t follow his own desires, but instead followed the will of the Father, pouring himself out for all humankind.

From the cross, Jesus bled forgiveness, even for the people crucifying him. He not only told the truth; he is the truth. As we look at how he shepherded his disciples, we see his love, protection, trust, hope, and perseverance.

Put love into action

Want to truly understand love? Look at Jesus. And then remember this: he loves you with an incredible love. Your response? Do the same with the people in your life.

Think about your friends and family. Who demonstrates this passage well? What traits of love does he or she personify? How does that encourage you?


Lord, thank you for showing me what love looks like as you walked the earth. With gratitude for your love for me, I want to show people that kind of sacrificial love. I can’t do it on my own, so please help me. Amen.

Drawn from the NIV Radiant Virtues Bible.

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