Happy Valentine’s Day! While we are all thinking about love, it’s a good time to stop and ponder exactly what is “true love” and how we can find it. Join me for this week’s Encouraging Word Wednesday post, featuring 22 Bible Verses about Love and 6 free printables!
When I was young and impressionable and up to date on the latest romantic comedies, I thought love was the slightly sickening feeling of butterflies in my stomach and a flush on my face.
Love was holding hands and talking late.
It was all or nothing and more than a bit obsessive.
It wasn’t true.
That sounds harsh, even to me, but after 15 years of marriage and more than 40 years of learning, I finally know the standard. I know what true love is and exactly where to find it.
God’s love has changed the way I feel about myself and the way I feel about everybody else, too. That’s what true love does.
That’s why I want my kids to know what true love really is. I want you to know it, too.
Because we live in a world that lies, a world that tells us to measure love by what we get, not by what we give. Our society sends mixed messages, telling us we’re enough but instilling insecurity every chance it gets.
What is True Love?
At times, it’s almost impossible to discern the truth from the lies we hear about love.
For instance, does the Bible say love yourself or love your neighbor?
If we listen just to the latest meme on Facebook, we’ll never have a complete picture of what love should really look like.
There’s a better source for that.
It’s actually the only source.
If we want to know what love really is, we have to turn to the one who is more than just loving. He IS love.
That’s what 1 John 4:8 says anyway.
God’s word has made it clear what love looks like, and often, my idea of love just doesn’t measure up.
You see, I often think love is a thing you feel. The Bible says it’s a thing you do.We often think love is a thing you feel. The Bible says it's a thing you do.Click To Tweet
So, how can we tell the difference? How can we discern true love from countless imitations?
What does True Love look like?
First, we have to look at what God’s word says about love. If God is love, then he is the perfect example of how love looks.
1 John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”
Sacrifice is at the center of true love.
That’s why 1 Corinthians 13:5 tells us that love is not “self-seeking.” Love looks out for others, and so should we.
Philippians 2:4 puts it this way, saying “Value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of the others.”
It goes on to say we should be like Christ, who gave up his high estate for a lowly one. There’s nothing less self-seeking than what Christ did when he left heaven for earth, comfort for the cross.Love doesn't ask 'What's in it for me?'Click To Tweet
When I think of his sacrifice and of our rejection of him, I can’t help but wonder how he puts up with people. I mean, he worked wonders among them, and they crucified him anyway. His disciples saw his deeds day by day, and they still doubted.
You can’t blame him for asking “How long shall I put up with you?” (Matthew 17:17)
But he did, and he still does.
True Love is Patient
It’s called patience, and it’s the first attribute of love 1 Corinthians 13 mentions.
I am not patient. Ask my children. Or my husband. Or almost anyone who knows me.
At any given moment, I am a foot-tapping, eye-rolling one who likes her way.
Love is not.
True love imitates the God who is patient with us. He has every reason to move on, leaving us to our own devices, but he doesn’t. “Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance.” (1 Peter 3:9)
I wonder how I can learn to be patient like him, and I think 1 Corinthians 13 offers a pretty good clue when it says that love “keeps no record of wrongs.” (v. 5)
Love might not, but I do. What about you?
True Love Does Not Keep Score
Every time I am aggravated by something my husband does, I tend to remember the last time he did the exact same thing. Remembering the past makes it difficult to be patient in the present.
Like Elsa, love lets it go.
That’s the key to patience and to overcoming the tendency to be easily-angered.
You can’t be both, you know. Love just doesn’t work that way.
We can’t walk around looking for ways the world offends us and expect to love it at the same time.
We have to “make every effort to live in peace with everyone,” according to Hebrews 12:14. Patience is often the path to peace.
Humility helps, too.
After all, the example of Christ is always a humble one. He came to serve not to be served. In our relationships, love lives like him.
Pride Has No Place in True Love
Pride never promotes peace.
James 1:4 says, “What causes arguments and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.”
Nothing is further from the picture of love painted in 1 Corinthians 13. That love, true love, “does not envy.” It “always protects.”
In light of that kind of love, the way I live often needs to change. My words often need to change. Do they protect others or harm them? Do my actions honor people or cause them shame? Do I parent with patience?
To live in love, I must live like Christ.
Some days, I do better than others, but no matter how often I fail, I must remember that, according to 1 Corinthians 13, love “always perseveres.”
When it comes to love, we can’t give up because it isn’t easy.
Where would we be if Christ had done that?
We must press on and love people. God’s word encourages us to do so, and his Spirit enables us.
Today, I’d like to share some verses that challenge me to live in love, true love. (Flashback to The Princess Bride, anyone?)
My prayer is that they will challenge and encourage you, too!
22 Bible Verses that Challenge You to Live a Life of Love
- “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
- “Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14
- “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3:16
- “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2
- “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:9-11
- “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Galatians 5:13-14
- “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.” Luke 6:35
- “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
- “A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17
- “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:9-10
- “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” Proverbs 10:12
- “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8
- “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12
- “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:16-18
- “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:12
- “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” 1 John 4:20
- “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8
- “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12
- “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44
- “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
- “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Galatians 5:6
- “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Just for you, I’ve created a set of 6 Bible Verse printables, as well as Bible Verse Cards, featuring some of my favorite verses above. Just fill out the form below to get access to the free printables!
Be sure to join us for Encouraging Word Wednesday and leave a comment sharing one of your favorite Bible verses about love this week! I look forward to hearing from you!