What Does Love Do?
In the context of truth, it’s helpful to understand these critical elements of love.
Love is more than niceness. Sometimes loving acts don’t feel good because pride and past experiences fight against the transformation that is fostered by loving engagement with God and others.
Love comes from being loved. God’s source of love comes through engagement with His Spirit and through other people. We need to receive God’s love to give it.
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:16)
“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
Love is experienced. When we engage with another person’s story and walk with them through their challenges, they experience God’s love through us.
Love is freely given. God’s abundant love prompts us to love in return. He never forces us to love Him. We are not duty bound. This freedom of choice is a foundational principle to love.
Love is expressed through words and actions. Words alone are not enough to convey love. Loving actions give attention, offer practical support, and set limits, for the sake of the other person and relationship.
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)
Love doesn’t deny truth. Love doesn’t deny what’s true, even if what’s true doesn’t feel good.
If someone’s actions hurt them or others, love addresses the truth of what’s happening with a goal of healthy restoration. To ignore what hurts is to be dishonest with what’s true.
Love that draws out another person’s internal truth (thoughts, feelings, attitudes, actions, and desires) in light of God’s truth is love worth celebrating.
“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:6)
Love doesn’t demand your way. Loving truth is not about telling a person what to do, or trying to fix them, or expecting them to do things your way. It’s about nurturing growth and connection within themselves, God, and others.
Love doesn’t prove you are right. Loving truth isn’t motivated by saying whatever is on our mind, or proving we know what’s best.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)
Love is empathetic. This may be the key element to speaking truth in love. Empathy enters another person’s world. It values their inner truth and experiences, without necessarily agreeing with them. Empathy cares enough about another person’s experience to speak truth and love from a position of understanding.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages