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Love is a necessary part of life. Love makes the world go around. But we don’t want the worldly, “love everybody until they tick us off” love. We don’t want a “love everybody unless they have a different political view as we have” kind of love. I’m talking about Christian love, the love of Jesus.
We need to have the kind of love so that they will know we are Christians by our love. If others can tell we love Jesus by the way we treat others, then we have Christian love. That is the best way to open doors to witnessing for Christ.
Love is the most important commandment that was given to us by Jesus. And that command is for us to love God and to love our neighbors. It proves that we are the disciples of Jesus.
John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
What is God’s definition of Christian love?
Having the love of God in our lives is the whole basis behind the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus came from Heaven to Earth, as a baby, lived a sinless life, died on the cross at Calvary, was buried 3 days and then rose again. That selfless sacrifice gave hope to a lost and dying world.
Jesus was the answer to all the problems and sinfulness of the world. He gave His life as a ransom so that His shed blood would cover the sins of mankind.
Related post: How to Get Closer to God Spiritually
So God’s definition of Christian love is the perfect sacrifice of his precious Son for all of mankind. What greater love is there than that?
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
4 Types of Love
There are 4 types of love in the Bible. When you dig deeply, you’ll find these words in the Greek version, but for our purposes today, I’m just going to give you a brief overview of each type of love. The first type of love in the Bible is called eros. Eros (pronounced air-ohs) is the Greek word for romantic love. This is erotic love between a husband and wife.
Storge (pronounced stor-jay) describes family love that happens naturally between parents and children and brothers and sisters. Phileo (pronounced fill-ee-uh) love is that brotherly love toward friends. We choose to love like phileo most of the time.
Lastly is Agape love (pronounced uh-gah-pay). This is the highest form of the 4 types. This term defines God’s immeasurable, incomparable love for humankind. It’s the Divine love that is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13. It is unselfish, giving, sacrificial, unconditional love. It’s how to love like God loves, and we are completely capable of loving this way. In fact, it’s a choice that we really should make if we want to love like God loves.
They will know we are Christians by our love
We all have heard the version of 1 Corinthians 13 that goes on wall plaques or is quoted at weddings. It goes like this:
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.
Beautiful, isn’t it? So let’s break down the characteristics of love according to my favorite version of the Bible, the King James version.
What are the 15 characteristics of love in the Bible?
God’s Holy Word gives us a beautiful definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13. This type of love is agape love, which, as I mentioned earlier, is the love of Christ. In the King James Version of the Bible, love is referred to as charity.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 KJV tells us that “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: …”
Charity suffereth long
The Apostle Paul starts this definition of Christian love with longsuffering. The Greek word for longsuffering means having patience over a long period of time. It’s no surprise that one of the first characteristics of love in the Bible is patience.
Think about God and His patience over the last 6000 years. God has been patient through the horrific sins of mankind over the years. Why? Because He is not willing that any should perish, but that all could be saved.
2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord 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.”
How does this apply to us? God is calling us to also have the longsuffering kind of patience with the ones that we love. How often do our loved ones grind on our every last nerve? I’m not saying that we should condone their sins. We are to guide them and share the convicting God’s Word with them. And we are to love them so much and have the longsuffering kind of patience with them until they turn away from their sins and come to repentance.
Charity is kind
The word kind, in this instance, means to be useful. This is an action word that God expects us to incorporate into our lives. Synonyms of kindness include humanity, generosity, charity, sympathy, compassion and tenderness. Basically, kindness is showing love. It means to serve your fellow human being. Kindness is one of the obvious characteristics of a Christian.
Ephesians 4:31-32 KJV tells us to “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Put into action, showing kindness is done through encouragement, edifying one another, serving where you see a need. Basically, we need to put others before ourselves. Put their needs before ours. As Jesus commands in Matthew 22:37-40 to love everybody as ourselves.
Matthew 22:37-40 KJV “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Related post: 9 Quick and Easy Benefits of Kindness
Charity envieth not
Dictionary.com defines envy as “a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions.” True agape love does not covet someone else’s life, job, wife, car or yard. Instead, we are to rejoice in the goodwill of our neighbor’s successes.
If a co-worker gets promoted, God’s love celebrates with them. Instead of thinking that promotion should have been yours, delight in their happiness. Share their joy, don’t steal it because of jealousy.
Charity vaunteth not itself
The Greek word for vaunteth means a lot of self-talk. It describes someone who endlessly promotes himself and his greatness. It seems to me that if you have to tell others how great you are, you probably aren’t as great as you think you are. And you should probably keep it to yourself. Bragging about our accomplishments does not show a lot of humility either.
On the other hand, agape love focuses on building others up, instead of building ourselves up. One of the great characteristics of a Christian is that we should have so much love that it’s never about self-love. We need to put the needs of others first and make them feel special and secure.
Charity is not puffed up
To be puffed up means full of pride. Love never thinks too much of itself. Whereas vaunting is talking about how great you are, being puffed up is the feeling, action or attitude. We should never carry the attitude that we are better than everyone else.
The opposite of pride is humility. Remember, as servants of the Lord, we are to be humble and put the needs of others before our own. The proud person sees his life as superior to others. Whereas the humble person sees that his life has been truly blessed. Pride thinks they are deserving of their accomplishments. Humble wants more for his neighbor than himself.
Philippians 2:3 “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”
Charity doth not behave itself unseemly
This simply means that Christian love is not rude. We don’t act dishonorable or offensive toward others when we have the love of Jesus. The opposite of behaving rudely is to be polite, respectful, courteous and compassionate.
In looking over these adjectives of what love is not, (but wait, there’s more), it is a great reminder that if we cannot reflect the love of Jesus in our lives, we cannot be great witnesses for Him either. How can we be rude, proud, conceited, self-centered and easily provoked and represent the perfect image of God? The truth is, we can’t. Rudeness is not one of the great characteristics of a Christian.
Charity seeketh not her own
This simply means that we are not self-serving or selfish. As a child of God who’s number one goal is to love God first and everybody else second, the love of self is not in the top two positions.
The Bible tells us to put the needs of others before our own, even at the cost of self sacrifice. There is no better example of this than in John 15:12-13. Jesus laid down His life for those who hated Him. If necessary, we should do the same for those we love.
John 15:12-13 “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Charity is not easily provoked
Those who live by the love of God should never aggravate someone to the state of exasperation. For what purpose would you want to enrage someone else? Conversely, we need to hold our temper and not let others exasperate us. It should not even be an option.
Our Christian personality should reflect peace, patience and good naturedness. That is not to say, we should let others walk all over us. Disagreements will occur. But when they do, handle yourself with dignity and control.
Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”
Charity thinketh no evil
What this means is that Biblical love doesn’t interpret actions in a negative way. For example, if your spouse forgets your birthday, a negative thought would be, he did it on purpose just to hurt me because we’re going through a rough patch. When truly, he just lost track of the calendar because Hubby has been working overtime so he could buy you something special.
Additionally love doesn’t keep a score sheet of all the wrongs you’ve done. Love forgives and forgets. It’s so important that you don’t look deeper into things. When a negative experience happens, let it go.
Charity rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth
Truth here, refers to righteousness or goodness. On the other hand, iniquity is sin or wrongdoing done to others. After all, we are talking about love here. This verse simply means that agape love does not rejoice over the injustice done to others. And it celebrates when good things happen.
Have you ever had someone hurt you, and then later when something bad happened to that person you felt a little pang of “serves them right”? That is exactly what this scripture is telling us NOT to do.
This reminds me of the saying, “what would Jesus do”. I cannot imagine Jesus finding joy in the sorrow of others. What goes around, comes around is not a Proverb. If we truly have the love of Jesus in our heart, we would have forgiven their iniquity and then been sorrowful when something bad happened to them.
The second part of this verse means that love is overjoyed at the truth. When someone is blessed with a new baby, a job promotion or a windfall, you rejoice with them. You don’t feel jealousy. Instead you recognize that it’s a blessing from God and you celebrate with them.
Charity beareth all things
The word bear, references to covering up, like a roof covers and protects the contents of a home from wind and rain. Therefore agape love covers, protects and shields when you’re going through difficulties. The following scripture describes love bearing all things in action. Again, lead and serve with the love of Jesus.
Galatians 6:2 “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
Related post: 16 Bible Verses About Overcoming Struggles in Life
Charity believeth all things
When you are going through trials, this type of love believes that you can endure until the very end. This is a constant faith in someone. If someone you love has made a mistake, this is the type of faith that believes that they will repent and turn back to Christ. Your love never gives up and you believe the best in every situation.
Charity hopeth all things
This type of love gives the expectation that everything will turn out over time. Love expects the best in others. This is the faith that is discussed in Hebrews 11:1. You cannot see it, or feel it. You just know that it’s there. That your burden will be overcome if it’s the will of God. Also remember that all things work together for our good and God’s glory.
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Roman’s 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Charity endureth all things
This type of love never quits. It says, I love you, I believe in you and we’re staying together until the bitter end. It is a love that never surrenders or gives up. Christian love enduring all things means that even though we are faced with difficulties in this life, we don’t cut bait and run when times get tough.
This is one of the great characteristics of a Christian that reminds me of the love and support of my family during and since my illness. How many times have you heard of a spouse leaving when the wife got cancer? I am so thankful that my family and friends stuck by my side through the thick and thin of quadruple amputations. This changed all of our lives. But giving up was never an option. My family is a great example of enduring all things.
Charity never faileth
Think of what the word “never” means. Doesn’t it mean forever and ever, with no end in sight? Does God’s love ever end? Look at these verses in Roman’s 8.
Roman’s 8:38-39 “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
When we put on the Christian love of God, we show love that endures to the end. We need to show unconditional, unwavering, forgiving and enduring love. And by living our lives in this manner, they will know we are Christians by our love.
1 Peter 4:8 “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”
What can we do today to prove that we have these 15 characteristics of love as laid out in the Bible? I don’t know about you, but I fall REALLY REALLY short. How wonderful that we have a Heavenly Father that forgives and guides us in our walk with Him!
Share your thoughts on Christian love in the comments below. Looking at our own lives, can they know we are Christians by our love?
***All Scriptures come from the King James Version of the Holy Bible