Paul begins his definition of true love in 1 Corinthians 13 by telling us what love is… patient and kind. He goes on to tell us, however, what love isn’t. There are four things that can and will destroy love if given the chance. Allowing these “weeds” to take root in our hearts and minds may not seem like a big deal, but they can easily become major problems in our lives if we allow them to grow.
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- Love is not jealous. I don’t believe Paul is talking about the type of jealousy we would feel if a spouse was being unfaithful. After all, God is said to be a “jealous” God when it comes to us and our faithfulness to Him. The type of jealousy Paul is addressing in this passage is the kind that leads to envy, hatred, and resentment. If we allow bitterness to grow in our hearts, it will eat at us until no love remains. Little seeds of jealousy need to be dealt with in our lives before they have a chance to turn into something that will consume us. True love rejoices in the successes of others.
A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones. – Proverbs 14:30 (NLT)
- Love is not boastful. There is nothing worse than someone who is constantly bragging about themselves and their accomplishments. More often than not, we do it without even realizing. It makes us feel good about ourselves (for the moment) while making others feel bad. True love encourages one another and lifts others up.
But he who boasts is to boast in the Lord. – 2 Corinthians 10:17
- Love is not proud. Pride falls along similar lines as boasting. Whereas boasting is an outward action, pride occurs in the heart. It is so easy to think of oneself as better than another, but pride will almost always lead to a fall at some point. True love values one another. In God’s eyes, we are all the same…leaving zero room for pride.
Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise. – Proverbs 13:10 (NLT)
- Love is not rude. The way we treat others speaks volumes. Both our words and our actions need to represent the love of God. Occasional rudeness may seem harmless, but we can’t expect others to feel the love of God when we are rude to them. Rudeness can also stir up anger and resentment as we hurt those we are supposed to care about. True love is gentle and respectful of others.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – Proverbs 15:1
Seeds grow… especially if they are given adequate attention and care. We have the choice to let them grow or to squash them before they have a chance to take root. One thing is true: Love can’t grow when jealousy and pride get in the way. Love will eventually be choked out by these things if we don’t nip them in the bud.
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. – Romans 12:9 (NLT)
True love begins in the heart. We can outwardly pretend to love others, but eventually, that will become increasingly difficult. We must love others with our hearts first. We must deal with the “weeds” of jealousy and pride before they have a chance to affect the way we show God’s love to others.
If we truly lift others above ourselves, there will be no room for jealousy, arrogance, or rudeness.
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.