Pursue Love Study No. 151

My oldest sister was planning for her wedding. She asked me if during the ceremony I would read some passages from the "Love Chapter" of the Bible. I would be honored! The language of my King James Bible was so dated that I didn’t feel I had fully grasped what Paul was trying to say. It sounded fine, majestic, romantic, noble, dignified, stately, and regal. But I just didn’t know exactly what it meant.

And, maybe no one at the ceremony would understand what these verses meant, either. That bothered me. I decided I was going to find out what these well-worn passages really did mean, so that everyone at the wedding, including myself, could understand what the characteristics of love really are. I looked up the meanings of the Greek words that Paul used when he wrote the letter. I also looked at more modern translations of the Bible. Finally I realized that Paul had given us a glimpse of love personified. He’d depicted love as a person, a living entity. And I saw that Paul had presented love in a series of little scenes. So if you want to know what love is really like — what it does, what it doesn’t do, how it thinks — here it is, all wrapped up in a nice little package, I Corinthians 13:4-8, a series of love scenes. Action, camera!

Scene 1: Love "suffers long and is kind," verse 4. First, "suffers long" was translated from the Greek word makrothumeo: to be long-spirited, patient, forbearing (by the way, forbear means refrain from; avoid or cease doing or saying). Then "kind" was translated from chresteuomai: to show oneself useful; act benevolently. J.B. Phillips puts the pieces together: "slow to lose patience — it looks for a way of being constructive." Love helps out.

Scene 2: Love "does not envy," verse 4. In this scene, "envy" was translated from zeloo "to have warmth of feeling — for or against." Interestingly, zeloo comes from zelos, which means "heat, zeal; (and, in an unfavorable sense) jealously, malice." Of course envy is a feeling of discontent or ill will because of another’s advantages or possessions; resentful dislike of another who has something that one desires. The verdict: love never stews and burns with envy.

Scene 3: Love "does not vaunt (parade) itself, is not puffed up," verse 4. First "parade itself" was translated from perperenomai "to boast." Thus, "love does not brag," (New American Standard). "Puffed up" was translated from phusioo, "to inflate, make proud." Thus, love "is not conceited — arrogant and inflated with pride," (Amplified Bible). Now, for a real show-stopper: love "is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance," (Phillips). Ouch! Obviously love is more the strong, silent type.

Scene 4: Love "does not behave rudely," verse 5. In this scene, "rudely" was translated from aschemosune, "an indecency." Consequently, love "doth not behave itself unseemly" (KJV). Nor does it "act unbecomingly," (New American Standard). Phillips shows the positive side: "Love has good manners . . . ." Love is a lady, and a gentleman.

Scene 5: Love "does not seek its own," verse 5. Love "does not pursue selfish advantage," (Phillips). And here’s a classic: "Love [God’s love in us] does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking," (Amplified). Love doesn’t grab the Director’s chair. It lets God run the show.

Scene 6: Love "is not provoked," verse 5. This isn’t really a fight scene, because "provoked" was translated from paroxuno, "to exasperate." So love isn’t "easily angered," (NIV); "fretful or resentful," (Amplified); "irritable or touchy," (Living Bible). Instead, love is self-possessed — in full possession of its feelings and actions.

Scene 7: Love "thinks no evil," verse 5. How do we interpret this scene? Well, "thinks" was translated from logizomai, "to take an inventory; to estimate." Thus, love "keeps no record of wrongs," (NIV). Love "takes no account of the evil done to it — pays no attention to a suffered wrong," (Amplified). Love is bulletproof!

Scene 8: Love "does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth," verse 6. Love roots for the good guy! Love doesn’t "gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it shares the joy of those who live by the truth," (Phillips). Brethren, what would the future hold for us if we spoke of the whole ekklesia — all of our brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of which church organization they might belong to — with this scene in mind?

Scene 9: Love "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things," verse 7. See these heroic scenes: Love "always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres," (NIV). "Love knows no limits to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything," (Phillips). "Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances and it endures everything [without weakening]," (Amplified).

Scene 10: Love "never fails," verse 8. Finally, "fails" was translated from ekpipto, "to drop away; be driven out of one’s course; lose; become inefficient." Thus, love "never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end," (Amplified). Love "goes on forever," (Living Bible). Love wins out in the end!

Epilogue: "Pursue love," I Corinthians 14:1. Pursue means to try to find, strive for, seek after. "Eagerly pursue and seek to acquire [this] love — make it your aim, your great quest," (Amplified).