[Love] does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness.
–1 Corinthians 13:5-6
What does genuine love look like? In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul gave us several characteristics of love expressed in the negative. Let’s look at five more of them. First of all, love “does not act unbecomingly” (v. 5). Or we might say, “Love is not rude.” Many people have been turned off to Christianity not because of the offense of the gospel but because of the offensiveness of Christians. We need to speak the truth, but we need to speak it in love.
Second, love “does not seek its own” (v. 5). In other words, love does not seek its own rights. What a contrast to the Corinthians! They wanted to be first in line at the agape feast on Sunday nights to get their food before it ran out. But nothing causes more friction in a family, in a friendship, or in a church than people putting their own rights above the rights of others. James 4:1 says, “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?” Love does not seek its own rights.
Third, love “is not provoked” (1 Corinthians 13:5). There is such a thing as righteous anger. But most of the time we get angry not because we are concerned about the things of God but because we are upset that our rights were violated. A friend forgets a birthday, a mate does not show appreciation for something we have done, a vote in the church does not go the way we think it ought to–that is when we get angry. Genuine love is not short-fused.
Fourth, love “does not take into account a wrong suffered” (v. 5). “Take into account” is the Greek word “logizomai,” which refers to the keeping of a financial ledger. My kids make fun of me because I still use checks. The reason is I like to record the debits in the check register so I know where I am financially. Recordkeeping is essential for personal business, but it is lethal in personal relationships. If you are always keeping a list of the offenses people have committed against you, you are going to have a hard time maintaining harmony in those relationships. The Bible says instead we ought to treat other people the way God treats us. In Romans 4:8, Paul said, “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.” Aren’t you grateful there is no ledger in heaven with all the offenses you have committed against God? If you are a Christian, that ledger has been erased by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Finally, love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness” (1 Corinthians 13:6). This verse is talking about how you feel about the misfortunes of other people, especially your enemies. If somebody cheats you in a business deal and later files for bankruptcy, or if your mate leaves you to marry another person, and that relationship ends in divorce, wouldn’t it be hard not to feel a little satisfaction over that? Yet Proverbs 17:5 says, “He who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished.” True love does not rejoice in the misfortunes of others.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Love Connection” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.