In the providence of the Lord, on a flight to speak in Romania, I was seated by a lovely young lady from Germany. While passing the time she shared she was going to be married soon. Curious as to why she would want to marry her fiancé, I asked her why she had chosen him above all others. I was not surprised by her answer, “Because I love him”, she said. However, she was surprised at my next question for I asked, “What is your understanding of love?”

I did not mean to be provocative, but as a pastor who has done a lot of counseling over the years, I am always interested in finding out if people have thought through their commitment to one another. And, so I asked her, “How would you define love?”

I will never forget the look of panic that came over her face. She became very quiet and confessed, “I do not know how to answer that.”

There are many ways to answer the question, “What is love?” beginning with the Biblical definition in 1 Corinthians 13. Any person can take the test of love and see if they are a loving person, according to gospel terms.

“Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, 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 Corinthians 13:4-8

I recently received an email from a Christian brother named Edward Shields in California. I found the thoughts on love he sent compelling and believe they will be a source of blessing to others in light of 1 Corinthians 13. The source material is from Paul Tripp. For additional resources, visit

What is love?

LOVE IS being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of others without impatience or anger.

LOVE IS actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental toward another while looking for ways to encourage and praise.

LOVE IS making a daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses.

LOVE IS being lovingly honest and humbly approachable in times of misunderstanding.

LOVE IS being more committed to unity and understanding than you are to winning, accusing, or being right.

LOVE IS making a daily commitment to admit your sin, weakness, and failure and to resist the temptation to offer an excuse or shift the blame.

LOVE IS being willing, when confronted by another, to examine your heart rather than rising to your defense or shifting the focus.

LOVE IS making a daily commitment to grow in love so that the love you offer to another is increasingly selfless, mature, and patient.

LOVE IS being unwilling to do what is wrong when you have been wronged, but looking for concrete and specific ways to overcome evil with good.

LOVE IS being a good student of another, looking for their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs so that in some way you can remove the burden, support them as they carry it, or encourage them along the way.

LOVE IS being willing to invest the time necessary to discuss, examine, and understand the relational problems you face, staying on task until the problem is removed or you have agreed upon a strategy of response.

LOVE IS being willing to always ask for forgiveness and always being committed to grant forgiveness when it is requested.

LOVE IS recognizing the high value of trust in a relationship and being faithful to your promises and true to your word.

LOVE IS speaking kindly and gently, even in moments of disagreement, refusing to attack the other person’s character or assault their intelligence.

LOVE IS being unwilling to flatter, lie, manipulate, or deceive in any way in order to coerce the other person into giving you what you want or doing something your way.

LOVE IS the willingness to have less free time, less sleep, and a busier schedule in order to be faithful to what God has called you to be and to do as a spouse, parent, neighbor, etc.

LOVE IS a commitment to say no to selfish instincts and to do everything that is within your ability to promote real unity, functional understanding, and active love in your relationships.

LOVE IS staying faithful to your commitment to treat another with appreciation, respect, and grace, even in moments when the other person doesn’t seem deserving or is unwilling to reciprocate.

LOVE IS the willingness to make regular and costly sacrifices for the sake of a relationship without asking for anything in return or using your sacrifices to place the other person in your debt.

LOVE IS being unwilling to make any personal decision or choice that would harm a relationship, hurt the other person, or weaken the bond of trust between you.

LOVE IS refusing to be self-focused or demanding, but instead looking for specific ways to serve, support, and encourage, even when you are busy or tired.

LOVE IS daily admitting to yourself, the other person, and God that you are unable to be driven by a cruciform love without God’s protecting, providing, forgiving, rescuing, and delivering grace.

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