Love Is... (part two)

In this second part of our look at the characteristics of love from 1 Corinthians 13, we will consider some of the “does not” statements in the passage. It is interesting that love is defined by the apostle as not merelt what it is, but also what it is not. In other words, love is actively “for” and “against” things. Standing up against evil is just as much a part of love as standing up for what is good.

“Love does not brag and is not arrogant” True love puts all others ahead of self. It elevates the accomplishments of what others are doing, and builds them up when they fail. Paul elaborates in Philippians 2:3, writing, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.” Of bragging, the Bible has much to say (1 Corinthians 1:29, Ephesians 2:9, James 4:16).

“Love does not act unbecomingly” There is no rudeness, indecency, or ugliness in love. We must abstain from disgraceful and dishonorable practices. “The art of politeness cannot be learned exclusively from books of etiquette; it comes from within; it is inspired by sympathy, and is guided by consideration for the feeling of others.  It is commonly a lack of love rather than a lack of knowledge that leads to bad manners, impropriety, and embarrassing rudeness” (Erdmans, p. 134).

“Love does not seek its own” i.e., “does not insist on its own way”, “does not insist on its rights”, “does not pursue selfish aims” according to other translations. Love always finds the path that gives others the right of way. We must be wary of forcing others to conform to our own set of preferences and opinions. Truth and morality are one thing, but the Corinthians, for example, had insisted on forcing their own liberties on those with opposing consciences (1 Corinthians 8). “In the last analysis, there are in the world only two kinds of people – those who are continually thinking of their rights and those who are continually thinking of their duties; those who always insist upon their privileges and those who always remember their responsibilities; those who are always thinking of what life owes them and those who never forget what they owe to life” (Barclay, p. 135).