If you were asked to find the one chapter in the Bible that describes love, how long would it take you to turn to 1 Corinthians 13? Ten seconds? Fifteen? Reading about love in 1 Corinthians 13 is as familiar to Christians as the top teams of the NFL are to a sports fan or the alphabet is to a first-grade teacher. But beyond the familiar strains of that oft-repeated chapter lay 15 characteristics that measure the extravagance of our love. Take a fresh look at the familiar list:

1. Love never gives up.
Love is patient. The two parts of the word-thumos-mean "far in a distance" and "heat." (Recognize the root of "thermos" and "thermometer"?) Is your anger measured in seconds, minutes, hours, or days? Patience extends grace, even in heated moments.

2. Love cares more for others than for itself.
Love is kind and helpful. Your words often best communicate a positive spirit. Keep them free of petty criticism, and focus on words that will build up others.

3. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Jealousy wants to keep, and envy wants to have, but love isn't found in either one. Need a key for this kind of love? Be content with what God has given you.

4.-5. Love doesn't strut or have a swelled head.
Love doesn't brag and isn't arrogant. Instead, you express God's love when you have adopt an accepting attitude and willingly embrace others who don't achieve all you have.

6. Love doesn't force itself on others.
Love does not act unbecomingly. It doesn't schema, which means "scheme." It doesn't develop a sharp, critical spirit, but remains tactful. You act lovingly when you say the proper thing at the proper time in a loving way.

7. Love doesn't have to be first.
Love isn't selfish. Next time you visit a supermarket or parking lot on a busy day, don't fight to be first; instead, surprise others by inviting them to go ahead of you.

8. Love doesn't fly off the handle.
Love isn't short-tempered or easily frustrated. Remember to value the person behind your frustration; that extra step often relieves rising pressure.

9. Love doesn't keep score of others' sins.
Love doesn't keep accounts of wrongs suffered. Want to show God's love? Forget about the grudge you've been carrying.

10. Love doesn't revel when others grovel.
Love finds no pleasure in wrongdoing. It says, "You're important to God and to me." Let that attitude direct your actions and interactions.

11. Love rejoices with the truth.
Love and truth are partners. You can't really have one without the other. When you love someone, you edify them with freedom to speak the truth.

12. Love puts up with anything.
To bear with someone means to cover over, so as to protect or to shield. When others disappoint you, love keeps you from getting sidetracked.

13--15. Love trusts God always. It looks for the best and keeps going to the end.
Love believes all things. When you give others the benefit of the doubt, you show them God's love. Love has an incurable confidence that God is at work in someone's life and never gives up looking out for their best.

What should you do now with this list of love's description? First, ask God to grow His agape in your life through His Spirit. Next, look over the list and identify two or three descriptions that you know you need to sharpen. Then pray to your Father, "I admire and want these qualities, but I can't produce them on my own. Father, I'm willing to be more loving, but please do it through me."

All God needs to begin His work is our willing spirit. Have you made yourself available to produce His fruit in your life this month? Keep abiding, making your home with Him, and watch Him grow His love in your life.