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6 Things Love is Not

Emily P. Freeman on her blog Chatting at the Sky is re-thinking the familiar 1 Corinthians 13 passage on love. She recollects,

“I was prepared to recite a list of all the adjectives describing what love is, but instead I heard the words as if for the first time. In the entire chapter about love, it only provides two words for what love is – patient and kind. Aside from those two words, everything else in those verses is either what love isn’t, what love doesn’t do, or what love does.”

Then she quotes the familiar verses:

“Love isn’t jealous, love does not brag and is not arrogant, 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.”

Freeman struggles with seeing this unfailing portrait of love in her day to day life, she admits, especially when faced with the horrors of the world. She goes on to write:

“Sometimes I want love to be whatever I want, whatever I think sounds nice today. But love is specific, spelled out here in the middle of 1 Corinthians. And I know these descriptions of what love is, what love isn’t, what love does and doesn’t do are true because when I am loved for real, the love works. It doesn’t fail.”

Have you ever thought of something in a new way, and allowed your perspective to change on it? Have you seen evidence of real love because it works the way 1 Corinthians 13 says love is supposed to work?

In his new book Never Fight Again…Guaranteed, Crosswalk author Dr. David B. Hawkins insists that relationships fail and fracture for the same reasons over and over again. We might be tempted to assume our marriages are doomed to horrible arguments and mediocrity, but he contends that if we work to eliminate harsh words and power grabs, grace and love (1 Corinthians kind of love) can start to define marriages.

Christian musicians Matt Carter, Joey Svendsen, and Toby Morrell (of the band Emery) also took a plunge into new territory, even in the face of much skepticism, with their blog and podcast project called Bad Christian. They were convicted that true Christian love is displayed in honesty, openness, and in fellowshipping with and reaching people of all beliefs, not just people within our own Christian bubbles. Morrell shares:

“We don’t want to be heroes, or ‘oh that band is really cool.’ I mean that feels great, but that’s also, if you think about it…pretty surface level, and we want people to see us as real people with real problems who make real mistakes, and say funny jokes or sometimes are even inappropriate…and that’s ok because that’s the human experience.” 

Emily Freeman ends her article with these words:

“Love is personal. Love is relational.

I get it wrong, blame others, forget to listen and fail to see.

But Christ moves me not to push but to lead; not to force, but to invite; not to tell but to listen.

Bear, believe, hope, endure.

May it be so in us. May it be so in me.”

What do you think? How has 1 Corinthians 13 influenced the way you love others around you? Do you find it easy to recognize true love from others by the characteristics listed in the passage? Share your thoughts below!

Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor at

Publication date: August 29, 2014