I find this list a good tool to use when evaluating whether I am practicing agape (love). I recommend memorizing Corinthians, chapter 13. According to Paul, the attributes of LOVE are:
LOVE is PATIENT. As a Christian in the Love (agape) business, I can vouch for the necessity of patience when dealing with life and people. As a father, I must be patient with my children to allow them the time to mature. In much the same way, as Christians, we must be patient with each other to allow Love to mature. It is not easy, because we have to put up with carnality and ignorance, but the goal is discipleship and Love. It is well worth it!
LOVE is KIND. How sweet is the thoughtful kindness of Love. The gentle softness of a word or a gesture creates a warmth of relationship and fosters an intimacy of trust. Love grows in the kind honoring of a mother or father, the kind parenting of children, the kind consideration of a friendship and the kind caring for our beloved in a relationship. When we get Love's attributes No. 1 and No. 2 in the right order, the other attributes begin to line up. God is kind. God help me be kind, not just to the deserving, but even to the rude. "A kind word turns away wrath."
LOVE DOES NOT COVET. How hard it is, not to want. Covet, envy, jealousy are all a lack of contentment with what God has already given. This does not mean we shouldn't set goals or have dreams. It means that it is harmful when we make a comparison of our life/stuff with the life/stuff of others. Thou shall not covet is the Tenth Commandment and is a catch-all. There are nine "concise" commandments and then Ten is "everything else." God gives us everything we need and deserve. We should want what God wants. If you want more, ask God what He wants, and then put your hand to the plow. What do you want?
LOVE DOES NOT BOAST. Boasting is the opposite of humility. Boasting leaves an arrogant aftertaste that degrades others. Again, bragging is self-centered and not sensitive about the care of others. Give God the glory for your blessings and share your good fortune with others without any need for reward or self-aggrandizement.
LOVE IS NOT PROUD. The psalmist says, "Pride goes before a fall." Lucifer's pride: "For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God." Pride is a vice that is hard to root out, even in the most committed Christian. It is one thing to stop stealing, but to clean out PRIDE, it takes a baptism of Love. Love desires the well-being of others, not selfish egotistical glorification. Focus on glorifying God and let God glorify you. Jesus said, "I glorify my Father, He glorifies me."
LOVE IS NOT RUDE. Love has a social maturity that values relationships. Social behavior should encourage the strengthening of individual civil trust. Anti-social behaviors, such as bullying, obscenity, profanity, lewdness, ethnic slurs, hate speech, yelling and a whole list of impolite activities are all violations. While mature Christians may graciously forgive improper behavior, we must be careful not to be rude to rude people, but to instruct toward maturity.
This is where Paul exhorts: "We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves ( Romans 15:1)." We all have room to clean up our act a bit, especially with those we live with on a day-to-day basis. To be continued ...
If you have any comments on this column, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.