"Love suffers long and is kind. Love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil." (1 Corinthians 13:4-5) "Love rejoices in truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (1 Corinthians 13:6-7) "Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:8)
In this verse, God reminds us that love is more than feelings for someone, more than lust and passion, more than devotion and responsibility for our children, and more than mere words. Love is in action, deed, and thoughts of the heart and mind. Love is patient and kind even when most people would have lost patience and snapped.
Love does not envy. Yet, many of us have envied a friend, sibling or competitor that we are supposed to care about. At that moment, the thoughts of our heart are not of love, but evil. Even if we have had this emotion, it doesn't mean we no longer love them, but at that moment, we are not loving them as we should. While it may be natural to have these unhealthy feelings at times, we are called to walk in the spirit, not in the flesh, which is what seems natural to us. The challenge is controlling these unhealthy feelings by turning away from the bad thoughts and thinking on the good things we love about that person.
Love does not parade itself. This means that we should not boast about our wealth, talent and good luck to people around us. Even if we are happy and celebrate the success of others, if they constantly flaunt it in our faces--especially in the midst of our own failures--it can take its toll on us. This is when Satan will attack us with feelings of envy and jealousy. You can share your good new and achievements with someone, but there are times to withhold good news and there are ways to share our successes without boasting.
Love does not behave rudely. This piece of the verse goes along way and extends over many circumstances from our loved ones to strangers we meet on the street each day. Even if you don't feel good, you're in a bad mood, or having the worst day of your life--it does not excuse you for snapping at others, displaying rude gestures, gossiping, betraying or deceiving others, putting yourself and your wants above others, road rage and cutting other drivers off, bullying or doing nothing about others who bully, etc.
Love does not seek it's own. This is the concept of putting others first, waiting your turn, sacrificing something you might want for someone else, stepping aside so someone else can have a turn or resisting competition to help build the confidence of others. It can also mean sharing and giving. Yes, you may have worked hard for what you have, but God gave you the ability and opportunity, now He wants to use you to bless someone else who may not have had your opportunities. YOU may be that person's opportunity.
Love is not provoked. This is another form of manipulation. When we know someone really well--a spouse, parents, our children--we know what invisible buttons to push to make them react. Through our words, deeds and behavior, we can provoke our loved ones to anger, resentment, shame, guilt, embarrassment, jealousy, envy--to feel and do things they ought not to do. Provoking someone in this way is not an act of love, but manipulation. This is why the Bible commands parents not to provoke their children.
Love thinks no evil. We should not expect the worst of our loved ones. Instead, we should trust them to do the right thing, to be faithful when we are not around, to overcome temptation, to say good things about us--we should always give them the benefit of good over doubting them.
Love NEVER fails!