These two words, “Love is,” begin one of the most famous passages in the New Testament.
These two words, “Love is,” begin one of the most famous passages in the New Testament. The key word in this passage is not “love”, but the word, “is”. This is the ontological predicate, the verb “to be,” which speaks directly to the idea of “reality,” not to the more finite and ephemeral things like imagination, or emotion.
What does this opening verse in the famous passage say love is then? First, “Love is patient.” What does this mean? It means that love is self-disciplined, that it can wait for good things, that it does not demand immediate gratification from the other in any form, physical, emotional, or psychological. A lover who is patient can bear provocations, annoyances, misfortunes, or pain without complaint, loss of temper, or anger. Why? Because the one who is patient never loses sight of the beloved, even in the midst of temporary struggles.
Love is kind. Kindness is not some syrupy idea. It is a boldness of character. Love’s nature is caring, especially in the face of hard times, or difficult situations. It responds to the other out of empathy, which is the glue that binds us together. Kindness arises from the capacity to see and meet the needs of the other, without the blinding fog of ego and self-centeredness.
Love is never jealous. Jealousy is rooted in self-centeredness. It is the inablility to see the other in anything other than a negative light. It compares the self to the other, usually in a resentful, or envious way. There is no room for love in this. Love makes no comparisons. It simply gives of itself without expecting anything in return.
Love is never boastful, or concieted. The ego is too small to be able to go beyond its own narrow borders. Love requires a largeness of spirit, an ability to transcend the self for the good of the other. Love never draws attention to itself. It is not vane. Rather, love is profoundly attentive and tender toward the other. It empties itself toward the other so that there is room enough within to receive the beloved’s love in return. Verses 6 and 7 simply expand on these ideas, building on the “selflessness” of love. In this we see the reality. Love is not easy. It is no mere emotion. Love is real and in this sinful world, it is very hard to do. But Jesus is our role model. And God’s love is our unconditional and constant grace. Thanks be to God.SKM: below-content placeholder