Monday, June 24, 2013

What is Love?

What is love?
And no, I'm not asking these two for the answer:

Come on, I can't be the only one whose mind went there:)

Anyway, love is a theme that's been swirling over me of late. Naturally, that brought up the question of "what is love", which lead me to the Bible, which lead me straight to 1 Corinthians 13. A very popular passage, go to most weddings and you'll hear it--pretty sure it was even read at mine. But just because something is familiar doesn't mean we can't glean something new from it. After all, the Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12) which keeps it fresh.

So I began to take apart 1 Corinthians 13 starting at verse 4 where it talks about what love is. Today I want to focus on just the first sentence:

Love is patient, love is kind.

And here comes the homeschooling mama in me. Bear with me:)

The word "IS", is a verb.  It can be helping, linking, or being. When we read love is patient, we automatically think of the "is" as a linking verb, linking patient back to love as its adjective. In other words, we think patient describes love.

But that's not what's going on here. The word "patient" is the Greek word makrothumeó, which is a verb. If you remember, verbs are actions. Makrothumeó means longsuffering or deferring anger. In fact, it comes from these two root words:

makros:  long, distant, far
thumos: outburst of passion, wrath, often used when speaking of rage

So what it's saying here is that patience is the action of pushing your outbursts of wrath or rage a long distance away from you. Hmmm...anyone relating here?  Patience doesn't describe love, but rather is the action of love. Moms can you hear me on this one? When your child disobeys or pushes your button for the hundredth time before you've even finished your morning coffee, you are still called to the love's action--which is patience. This action does not say we cannot be angry or hand out consequences to their button-pushing. It does, however, say we must push the outbursts of anger far from us. This is often where I need to remind myself I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and you can too. Take a deep breath, remember love is what we want to model and fill our homes with, suck in another mouthful of coffee to keep your tongue occupied, and when your blood pressure returns to normal, then deal with the situation. (And I know it's not only moms who need to practice this:) )

The next part of the sentence we're looking at today says love is kind. I don't think it's coincidence that patience and kindness are in that sentence together. Let's look at the Greek again. The word "kind" here is the Greek word chrésteuomai, and again it's a verb--which means action.

chrésteuomai: gentle, to show oneself mild; service to others, kind

Basically, the first part of that definition piggy-backs on the patience portion. There needs to be a mild, gentle part of us when dealing with others. Outbursts of anger don't demonstrate gentleness, so patience and kindness go hand-in-hand here. But the second part speaks to helping others. Love doesn't ask if they deserve it or not, love just digs in and helps, because that's what love is.

So let's recap. We're talking actions here, not descriptions. Love holds back outbursts. Love demonstrates gentleness. Love helps those around us.

Out of these, which is the hardest aspect for you? I pray today that God overflows you with an abundance of His strength in that area so you can actively LOVE those around you:)


  1. Thanks for the encouraging and challenging words today.
    Love reading your blog!

    1. Hey Julia:) These words challenge me too! Patience for me truly is God's strength in me!!