There are two great commandments in the Bible. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength (Deuteronomy 6:4-5), and love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18). Jesus says that all of the law and the prophets hang on these two commands (Matthew 22:40).
Love seems like an important thing, but what is this thing called love? Is it that happy, longing feeling you get with your parents, spouse, children, etc., or is it just actions that you have for others?
Honestly I don’t have an answer for those questions. I imagine that it can start with actions and become emotional, or vice versa. However, what I can give you is a scriptural measuring stick with which to see if you are loving or not:
1. Patience: Love is Patient (1 Corinthians 13:4)
Are you patient with others? What are the limits of your patience? Do you have a breaking point? Imagine if God’s breaking point was as short with you as yours is with others. What would happen?
2. Kindness: Love is Kind (1 Corinthians 13:4)
Are you kind to others? How do you respond when your food comes out cold at the restaurant? How do you respond when that crazy guy cuts you off on the road? Do you know your neighbors? What have you done for them without any expectation of return lately? Remember God’s kindness to you and freely give as you’ve been given.
3. Humbleness: Love is Not Arrogant (1 Corinthians 13:4)
How much of a conversation do you monopolize talking about you? How often do you think, “I could do it better?” How often do you willing submit yourself to someone else? How often do you talk to those who are worse off or in a lower class than you? Never forget that the King of Heaven stepped down to Earth to become one of us; how can any act of humility ever compare?
4. Selflessness: Love Does Not Seek Its Own (1 Corinthians 13:5)
Do you get frustrated when people take and take without ever giving anything in return? Do you worry about volunteering your time because you know they’ll just want more and more? Are you willing to lay down your life down for others? Jesus was. He gave His all for you.
5. Forgiveness: Love Does Not Keep a Record of Wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5)
Has someone ever hurt you? Do you have some bitterness that you’ve been holding on to? Jesus set the ultimate example of forgiveness on the cross. He said “Father forgive them”. Then in Acts chapter 3, 3,000 of the ones who had shouted “crucify Him” gave their lives to Christ. Don’t just forgive, but ask God to forgive those who have hurt you too.
6. Righteousness: Love Does Not Rejoice in Evil But Truth (1 Corinthians 13:6)
Do you confront your friends when they are doing what is wrong, or do you laugh with them and participate in the bad things they do? No one loved like Jesus, but He was firm with everyone, from the prostitute to the Pharisee, and told them all to “stop sinning.”
7. Faithfulness: Love Believes All Things (1 Corinthians 13:7)
Do you trust people even when they don’t deserve it, even though they’ve hurt you time and time again? How many second chances has Jesus given you even though He knows you’re just going to mess up again?
8. Endurance: Love endures all things and never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:7-8)
How long will you stick out the hard times with someone? How much hurt can you take before you’ll call it quits? Jesus was beaten and crucified for you. He went the distance and took all the punishment this world could throw at Him.
Love is hard. There’s no doubt about it, and a lot of what we call “love” these days is a cheap imitation. But here’s the hope we have in Christ Jesus: Beloved, if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.