The 7 Marks of Real Love

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8

This passage tells us that if we don’t love one another we can’t know God because God is love. I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking I wouldn’t have to walk any farther than the entry way of the mall to find a few people (few, meaning nearly everyone) who would argue against that truth. They would declare they most surely know what love is and that being a holy-roller or religious nut isn’t necessary in order to do so.

But here’s the deal—these people don’t have a clue as to what love really is. They don’t know what love is because (in the words of Johnny Lee) they’re lookin’ for love in all the wrong places.

Don’t make this same mistake. You wouldn’t go to a mechanic for your root canal or ask a veterinarian to write your will. So don’t ask anyone other than the utmost authority on the subject of love to tell you what love is. And just in case you need me to remind you, the ultimate authority on love is God.

He tells us in no uncertain terms what love is in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Let’s take a look at God’s definition of love so that you will be better able to assess your relationships to see if they measure up with God’s design for what a relationship is supposed to look like. If so, great! If not, you need to take whatever steps are necessary to bring the relationship into a God-honoring condition. If that is not possible, the relationship should be severed.

Severing a relationship may sound harsh. You might even question whether or not it is the “Christian thing to do”.  If this is you, you need to remember that even Jesus told the disciples to shake the dust off their sandals and walk away if someone refused to be receptive to their message. Shaking the dust off isn’t a license to be unkind, ugly, rude, or vindictive. It’s simply a matter of not putting yourself in a position to endanger your relationship with God. So without further ado…

“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.”

1. Love is patient

To be patient means to tolerate delays, suffering, or problems without complaining or becoming annoyed or angry. Do you treat those you say you love this way? Do those who claim to love you, do the same? Patient love doesn’t ridicule a toddler by calling them poky or slow. Patient love doesn’t nag. Patient love trusts that God’s timing is perfect.

2. Love is kind and does not envy

When your love is kind and free of envy you do things for those you love because you love them—not with the expectation of being repaid. When your love is kind and free of envy you are able to sincerely and genuinely share in another’s joy and excitement when something good happens to them. You give of yourself because you want to make their life better.

3. Love is not boastful or proud

Boastful and prideful people love themselves more than they love others. They are more concerned about how they are perceived than they are you. Love that is not boastful and prideful will not be concerned about being recognized for their actions toward you. They just love because they love.

4. Love lifts up others and isn’t self-seeking

If someone loves the way God calls us to love, they will put the feelings and well-being of those they love above their own feelings and well-being. One of the greatest examples of this kind of love is that of a parent and child. What mother won’t go without a new dress in order to give her child the soccer cleats he/she needs? What mother won’t suddenly be “so full they can’t eat another bite” when their little one asks if they can have the last cookie? What parent doesn’t go without something they want (or even need) in order to make sure their child’s eyes light up in delight on Christmas morning?

Unfortunately I have witnessed parents who don’t know this kind of love. I’ve seen parents standing in line at the grocery store buying tobacco, alcohol, and energy drinks while at the same time yelling at their preschooler for asking if they can have a candy bar from the display in the checkout line. God calls us to be better than this. He calls us to love with a love that puts others first—just like he puts us first.

5. Love isn’t easily angered and doesn’t keep score

As I typed this line the song from Disney’s “Frozen” came to mind. You know the one I’m talking about—“Let it go! Let it go!” Grudges have no place in a truly loving relationship. Keeping no record of wrongs doesn’t mean we have to allow ourselves to be subjected to repeated incidents of abuse, infidelity, or betrayal. Keeping no record of wrongs means we forgive and move forward. Loving with a heart of forgiveness allows us to receive God’s forgiveness—something we have to have in order to be one with him.

6. Love takes no pleasure in evil and always seeks the truth

There is no room for deceit and lies in a truly loving relationship. Lying about how much you spent at the mall is not real love. Lying about your feelings toward your mother in-law isn’t real love. True love isn’t vengeful and it doesn’t smirk in satisfaction when someone gets what they have coming to them.

When you love with a godly love you don’t gossip, bully someone, or extract revenge. Instead, true love speaks the truth graciously and tactfully, refuses to gossip, treats others the way you want to be treated, and does nothing to intentionally harm or malign someone else.

7. Love protects, perseveres, and never fails

There really isn’t anything I can say to expound on this statement. The words speak for themselves. When you love and experience love God’s way, your relationships will not be dependent on geography or what you can or cannot do for each other. Your relationships will stand the test of time and distance and you will protect these relationships by holding them close to your heart—by cherishing them for the treasure they are by treating them with respect and with…well, with love.

The seven primary elements of love are the elements that make up God’s treatment of us. But why shouldn’t it be, because that’s what love is and God is love.

~ By Darla Noble

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  1. Reply
    Jack says

    This message is very edifying. We really need to know what real love means. you cannot love you never saw while hating you neighbor or anyone with whom you live day by day.

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