Last year, I started writing on the essential nature of love in ministry, and I attached a link to the previous article that I wrote on the topic of love.
Love is an essential ingredient for a successful and effective ministry, but what is love? How would we define love? To love better, we need to know what love looks like. In First Corinthians 13, Paul gave his definition of love, which is considered one of the best andmost famous literary pieces of all time.
The Nature of Love
In verses 4-7, Paul lists out 15 characteristics of love, and they are divided into three groups:
What love is.
What love is not.
What love does.
In this article, we are going to look at how Paul defines love.
The Leading Qualities of Love
First, what is love?
Love is patient and kind.The Greek word “patient” here means “prolonged restraint of emotion, anger, or agitation, forbearing, or being slow to anger.” It is the ability not to retaliate, to be taken advantage of by a person repeatedly yet without becoming angry or upset.
God is the supreme example of patience. Who is more patient than the Lord our God? God has always been patient with us.
In 2 Peter chapter 3 verse 9, Peter writes, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
I am grateful that for years and years God has been patient with me after time and time again I rejected the gospel. I could have been dead and gone to hell, but God was patient toward me so that I would come to trust in Jesus Christ. After I became a Christian, I still sinned and disobeyed God many times, yet God is so patient to forgive me and sanctify me in His loving discipline.
If God has been so patient with His rebellious creatures, how much more should we be patient with each other?
Second, Love is kind.
Not only do we not respond in anger and frustration, but also, we ought to react and respond with kindness. To be kind is to be gracious, merciful, and helpful. It is active goodwill. Kindness desires the good and well-beingof other people.
This is what kindness looks like practically: In Matthew chapter 5, verses 40-41, Jesus said, “And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” Jesus commands His disciples, including us, to be kind, to care for the welfare, even of those who are unkind.
God is the prime example of kindness. Who are we that God expresses His kindness toward us? Yet, God has been kind toward us repeatedly. In Romans chapter 2 verse 4, Paul writes, “Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” We are to be kind to one another because God has been kind toward us.
In Philippians chapter 4, verse 5, Paul writes, “Let your gentleness be known to all men.” Who are we supposed to be gentle to? To all men, to those who disagree with you, to those who are against you, to non-believers in your family or your community. The Greek word “gentleness” means “not insisting on every right of letter of law or custom, yielding, kind, and tolerant.” In other words, you are flexible with other people.
Patience and Kindness are the two leading qualities of love.
Dat Nguyen is a student at the Master’s Seminary and a member of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, California. His desire is to be a faithful minister of the Word of God. He loves playing basketball and watching movies.