Love, in our world of complex emotions, remains one of the most difficult to comprehend. It has been the subject of research and speculation for centuries.
Different kinds of love exist. Some are playful and exhilarating, while others are more mature and profound.
Love is patient
When someone else is suffering, it can be hard to comprehend their suffering. While you may feel angry or resentful towards them, it is essential that you remain patient and try your best to understand their perspective. Doing this allows for true love – an essential element in any healthy relationship.
Paul exhorts Christians in 1 Corinthians 13 to adopt a love that is purposeful, persistent and perspective-driven. This verse is often recited during wedding ceremonies as an inspiring example for couples as they begin their journey together.
Patience is the hallmark of godly love, and it goes hand in hand with kindness and forgiveness. Incorporating patience into one’s spiritual practice is essential for believers to grow in their faith and develop a kingdom perspective that allows them to see people through Christ’s eyes instead of their own.
Patience is a gift from God that can be nurtured through consistent, loving behavior. If you practice patience, you will soon notice how quickly it grows and becomes more powerful than before.
Another essential characteristic of patient love is its selflessness. It does not seek to benefit from other people’s suffering, but instead strives to provide comfort and understanding by listening intently.
Paul discusses patient love as the foundation of all other forms of love in 1 Corinthians 13. With patient love, you do not try to manipulate others or force them into doing what you want; rather, you are dedicated to providing assistance for them when they are in need.
As a result, you will become more forgiving and gracious – what Paul refers to in this passage as the fruit of the Spirit.
Patience is one of the most admirable love-related characteristics Paul mentions in this passage, yet it can also be one of the most difficult. This trait requires selflessness but reaps abundant rewards; when you practice patient love towards family members, friends, and coworkers with all that you have, then everyone around you will benefit from your efforts.
Love is kind
It is often said that “if you are kind to someone, they will be kind back”. But what does it really mean to be kind when another person is suffering? What if the person you show kindness to gets sick and must go to the hospital? Does being kind bring comfort or comforting back?
The Bible encourages us to show kindness to those who hurt us, even if they deserve it. Jesus exemplified this principle when He was being crucified: not only was He patient with Judas and the crowd, but He also kind. He provided them with food, clothes for the journey, and even reattached Malchus’ ear after Peter cut it off!
Patience is not enough; kindness requires action. Beyond simply waiting for the right moment, kindness involves doing good deeds for others – whether they are our friends, family members, or adversaries.
Compassion, founded on empathy for those suffering, can be practiced by all Christians without much effort on our part. It’s an essential trait of love that should be fostered among Christians as a sign that we are truly following Christ.
We should also remember that desire is an instinctive trait shared by all humans, and can be one of the best indicators of a potential romantic partner’s feelings towards us.
Take time to reflect on what in your own life causes your heart to overflow with compassion. Maybe it’s the way you treat your children or spouse, or that you are willing to sacrifice some things for them. Whatever it may be, allow yourself to feel this compassion every day.
The Bible describes this kind of love as agape – an expression of God’s own selfless, sacrificial nature. This love differs from eros, which expresses romantic affection or friendship; and phileo, which describes brotherly affection.
By choosing to love other believers with compassion, we can address many of the issues Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians. Furthermore, by acting with such selflessness we will become more effective, faithful, and unified as Christians because our choice to love others has brought us closer together.
Love is forgiving
Forgiving someone when they have wronged you can be a difficult step, but it is also one of the most beneficial things for yourself. Not only does it reduce stress levels, improve emotional and physical wellbeing, but it may even foster a healthier relationship in the long run.
It can be easy to harbor grudges and resentments against those who have wronged us, especially when we feel overwhelmed or vulnerable. But these feelings can have detrimental effects on our mental health, leading to more serious problems in the future if not dealt with promptly.
Gaining freedom from anger, resentment and grudges takes time. It may take weeks, months or even years to fully let go of them.
While you’re working through forgiveness, take time to journal, pray or talk with a trusted individual who understands your struggle. A spiritual leader, therapist or impartial loved one might be ideal in this regard.
Some mistakenly believe they must reach out to the offender in order to forgive them. However, this is not necessary and may not even be possible if the person has passed away or relocated away.
Swartz recommends that if you’re ready to forgive someone or something that caused you harm, start by identifying the specific event or person responsible and then assess how much pain this caused. Doing this will help determine how far along in the process of forgiveness you should go.
Once you’ve made the choice to forgive, be sure to do so with compassion and patience. The healing process can take time, so you may need to revisit this decision until it becomes easier for you.
Lisa Egel suggests the best way to approach forgiveness is to recognize it as a process, rather than something you can do once. Furthermore, accepting that how you feel about an injustice is out of your control can be key in forgiving someone else.
Forgiving someone when they’ve caused you harm is a powerful act that can have an immense effect on both your life and that of those around you. Not only does it reduce stress levels and lower blood pressure, but it also strengthens the immune system – leading to longer, healthier days.
Love is selfless
When you truly love someone, your heart goes into it. And that means trusting them with your most intimate secrets – even when those may be painful. It is a risk unlike no other and an act of love that requires great courage to give.
One of the most difficult parts of loving someone selflessly is letting them go when it’s no longer beneficial for you both. Sometimes this might mean they have moved away or your relationship isn’t progressing as expected. Whatever the case may be, let go and move forward!
Though this can be a challenging step, it’s a selfless act for the sake of others. While it may be difficult to let go, sometimes letting go is the best way to ensure they’re contented.
Another essential aspect of selflessness is making compromises and difficult decisions for the other person. Doing this shows you care about their happiness, as well as making sure they feel secure in your relationship.
For example, if they’re unhappy with the new job they received, you might need to sacrifice some of your own desires so they can shine brighter than ever before. Doing this out of love for them will benefit both of you and make all the difference between a healthy and successful relationship and one which doesn’t last.
Similarly, if they’re having a difficult day and not feeling well, you might need to step in and help. Whether that means getting them something to drink or providing them with snacks, taking steps towards helping may be all that’s necessary.
It’s the same when they require your help with a task you don’t possess the expertise for or when they require help moving their things out of the house. Loving selflessly is an essential trait; it demonstrates your dedication to their happiness and sets you apart from others.
When in a relationship, it can be easy to become consumed with your own needs and desires. That is why practicing selflessness is so essential; not only will this ensure the longevity of the relationship but also provide you with valuable skills that will benefit all other areas of life as well.