In 1967, The Beatles released “All You Need Is Love,” and it’s been a smashing success ever since. If there’s one thing the world can agree on, it’s that we need love. However, The Beatles didn’t really tell us what love was, but they did give us a great song to sing. In 1993, Haddaway released the song, “What is love,” which also didn’t answer the question but did give us something to dance to. What is love? What does it look like? How can we apply love, as defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4, to our lives?

Today, I’m going over love and how it’s defined by the Bible. Specifically, 1 Corinthians 13:4. I had heard the familiar tenets of love from this chapter in Corinthians spoken at weddings and quoted here and there before I was a Christian.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV)

In Greek, the word here for love is agape, so I’m only going to talk about this love today. This is the love that God has for us and it’s the same love He desires for us to have with each other. There is no higher love than agape love.

The first thing we notice about love here in this verse is that it’s patient. I like the words the New King James Version uses for patience. Love “suffers long.” How many of you know that suffering is a part of being patient? Whatever it is we’re waiting for we’re expecting it and we want it to happen. We don’t typically wait patiently for bad things to happen, do we? Well, we might. However, whatever it might be, good or bad, waiting for it can bring about suffering. Love is patient and long-suffering.

One of the questions I’m looking to answer today is how can we apply love, as it’s defined here, to our lives? Therefore, we’re going to use a checklist of sorts. First on this list is long-suffering patience. Are you patient with those whom you profess to love?

Love is patient, love is kind. The word kind here, in Greek, is chrésteuomai, and it means

to be kind (full of service to others), gentle. to show oneself useful.

This word, chrésteuomai, isn’t used anywhere else in the Bible. When Paul talks about being kind in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (NIV), he uses a form of the same word, chrestoi, which means

Useful, gentle, pleasant, kind.

However, the key difference in their usage appears to be giving full service to other people.

Sometimes I find it best to understand what something is by understanding what it is not. Some antonyms of “kind” are heedless, inconsiderate, thoughtless, and unthinking. Therefore, when you love someone, you do everything you can to be considerate, thoughtful, gentle, and respectful in every regard for the person. Are you kind with those whom you profess to love?

The thing about love is you can’t have love without being patient. This is why patience is listed first. Part of being patient is, you guessed it, kind. If we’re being patient and kind, then we aren’t going to be envious, boastful, or proud. Love is all of these things, and there can’t be love without them. Therefore, as we continue reading about love in 1 Corinthians 13, we’re no longer reading what love is but what love looks like. We’ve already answered the question, What is love? The rest of these verses tell us what love looks like.

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.

1 Corinthians 13:5-7 (NIV)

If you’re seeing any of these issues in your relationships, then something isn’t right with one of those five things that make up love. In Galatians, Paul writes about the fruits of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). I’d say that if you’re having a problem with love in your life, then you should look to the fruits of the Spirit to help you see where there’s an issue.

It’s been easy to go over this verse from the Bible to answer the questions about love today, but will this really help us to love any better? What comes to mind is something Jesus told His disciples, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26 NIV).

Do you know God? God knows you, and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.