What Love Is

³Love is long-suffering.´ Being long-suffering means patiently putting up with others. (Colossians 3:13) Do we not need such patience? Because we are imperfect creatures serving shoulder to shoulder, it is only realistic to expect that from time to time, our Christian brothers may irritate us and we may do the same to them. But patience and forbearance can help us to cope with the minor scrapes and scratches we sustain in our dealings with others²without disrupting the peace of the congregation. ³Love is . . . kind.´ Kindness is shown by helpful acts and considerate words. Love moves us to look for ways to show kindness, especially toward those most in need. For instance, an older fellow believer may be lonely and in need of an encouraging visit. A single mother or a sister living in a religiously divided home may need some assistance. One who is ill or facing some adversity may need to hear kind words from a loyal friend. (Proverbs 12:25; 17:17) When we take the initiative to show kindness in such ways, we demonstrate the genuineness of our love.²2 Corinthians 8:8. ³Love . . . rejoices with the truth.´ Another version says: ³Love . . . joyfully sides with the truth.´ Love moves us to uphold truth and to ³speak truthfully with one another.´ (Zechariah 8:16) If, for example, a loved one has been involved in serious sin, love for Jehovah²and for the erring one²will help us hold to God¶s standards rather than trying to conceal, rationalize, or even lie about the wrongdoing. Granted, the truth of the situation may be hard to accept. But having the best interests of our loved one at heart, we would want him to receive and respond to an expression of God¶s loving discipline. (Proverbs 3:11, 12) As loving Christians, we also wish to ³conduct ourselves honestly in all things.´²Hebrews 13:18. ³Love . . . bears all things.´ That expression literally means ³all things it is covering.´ (Kingdom Interlinear) First Peter 4:8 states: ³Love covers a multitude of sins.´ Yes, a Christian who is governed by love is not eager to drag into the light of day all the imperfections and shortcomings of his Christian brothers. In many cases, the mistakes and faults of fellow believers are minor in nature and can be covered by the cloak of love.²Proverbs 10:12; 17:9. ³Love . . . believes all things.´ Moffatt¶s translation says that love is ³always eager to believe the best.´ We are not unduly suspicious of fellow believers, questioning their every motive. Love helps us ³to believe the best´ about our brothers and to trust them. Note an example in Paul¶s letter to Philemon. Paul was writing in order to encourage Philemon to welcome kindly the return of the runaway slave Onesimus, who had become a Christian. Instead of trying to coerce Philemon, Paul made an appeal based on love. He expressed confidence that Philemon would do the right thing, saying: ³Trusting in your compliance, I am writing you, knowing you will even do more than the things I say.´ (Verse 21) When love moves us to express such confidence in our brothers, we bring out the best in them. ³Love . . . hopes all things.´ Even as love is trustful, it is also hopeful. Motivated by love, we hope the best for our brothers. For example, if a brother takes a ³false step before he is aware of it,´ we hope that he will respond to loving efforts to readjust him. (Galatians 6:1) We also hold out hope that those who are weak in faith will recover. We are patient with such ones, doing what we can to help them become strong in faith. (Romans 15:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:14) Even if a loved one goes astray, we do not give up hope that someday he will come to his senses and return to Jehovah, like the prodigal son in Jesus¶ illustration.²Luke 15:17, 18. ³Love . . . endures all things.´ Endurance enables us to stand firm in the face of disappointments or hardships. Tests of endurance do not come only from outside the congregation. At times, we may be tested from within. Because of imperfection, our brothers may on occasion disappoint us. A thoughtless remark may hurt our feelings. (Proverbs 12:18) Perhaps a congregation matter is not handled as we think it should be. The conduct of a respected brother may be upsetting, causing us to wonder, µHow can a Christian act like that?¶ When faced with such situations, will we withdraw from the congregation and stop serving Jehovah? Not if we have love! Yes, love prevents us from becoming so blinded by the failings of a brother that we can no longer see any good in him or in the congregation as a whole. Love enables us to remain faithful to God and supportive of the congregation regardless of what another imperfect human may say or do.²Psalm 119:165.
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. . . does not rejoice over unrighteousness. Such a course is unloving. Jehovah forgives when there is sound reason for doing so.What Love Is Not ³Love is not jealous. love does not let us remain provoked. (Ephesians 4:26. (Romans 12:15) Love helps us not to view it as a personal affront when someone receives praise for some exceptional ability or outstanding achievement.´²1 Corinthians 10:24. left unchecked. ³Love . blessings. .´ Moffatt¶s translation says: ³Love is never glad when others go wrong. Are we not thankful that Jehovah does not keep account of the injury? ³Love . that is. love will not permit us to engage in ³shameful conduct´²really. This precious quality can enable us to rejoice with those who seem to have certain advantages in life that we ourselves do not have. so we do not wink at immorality of any kind. . What will help us to resist the ³tendency to envy´? (James 4:5) In a word. destructive emotion that.´ Love restrains us from flaunting our talents or accomplishments. but that of the other person.´ Love is not easily provoked by what others say or do. he does not hold those sins against us at some future time. How do we react if a fellow believer is ensnared by sin and fares badly as a result? Love will not let us rejoice. can disrupt the peace of the congregation. . we will respect their views. . any behavior that would shock or offend our Christian brothers.´ Love prevents us from having an elevated view of ourselves.´ The New English Bible here reads: ³Love . it is only natural to become upset when others offend us. not his own advantage. But even if we get justifiably angry. ³Love . there is a graciousness in love that moves us to show consideration for others. If we truly love our brothers. causing them to feel inferior in comparison. . . love moves us to imitate our loving God. does not become provoked .²Ephesians 5:3. how could we constantly brag about our success in the ministry or our privileges in the congregation? Such boasting can tear others down.´ A person who behaves indecently acts in an unseemly or offensive manner. 27) We would not keep a record of hurtful words or deeds. and where possible. As we saw in Chapter 26. . does not brag. . as if writing them in a ledger so that they will not be forgotten. . love ³does not get puffed up. as if to say µGood! He deserved it!¶ (Proverbs 17:5) We do rejoice.´ A loving person does not demand that everything be done his way. ³Love . using his powers of persuasion to wear down those who have a different view. it does not ³cherish inflated ideas of its own importance. 20 19 18 17 16 15 . and respect for our fellow believers. (1 Corinthians 3:5-9) After all. when a brother who has erred takes positive steps to recover from his spiritual fall. 4. does not behave indecently. as if his opinions were always correct. does not keep account of the injury. . and the Bible says: ³Pride is before a crash. Thus.´ Improper jealousy can cause us to become envious of what others have²their belongings. Instead.´ Love finds no pleasure in unrighteousness. does not gloat over other men¶s sins. love. does not get puffed up.´ or as The New Testament in Modern English says. True. In contrast. Love does not allow us to brag about what God lets us do in his service.´ (Proverbs 16:18) If we really love our brothers. Such jealousy is a selfish. Such stubbornness would reveal a measure of pride. When he forgives us.²Romans 12:3. . or abilities. Love promotes good manners. ³Love . He does not manipulate others. however. for it shows an utter disregard for the feelings and welfare of others. . he forgets. godly conduct. A yielding spirit is in harmony with Paul¶s words: ³Let each one keep seeking. does not look for its own interests. we will show a willingness to yield.´ The Revised Standard Version says here: ³Love does not insist on its own way.

but the good word is what makes it rejoice Proverbs 17:17 A true companion is loving all the time. but in view of the earnestness of others and to make a test of the genuineness of YOUR love. it will never come to an end.´ that is. more enduring. To this day. in imitation of our loving God. and do not abhor his reproof. he was discussing the gifts of the spirit that were present among early Christians.´ (1 Corinthians 12:31) What was this ³surpassing way´? It was the way of love. so do YOU also. Paul called it ³a surpassing way. something else would remain. do not reject. even as a father does a son in whom he finds pleasure . we can keep on living²yes.A Surpassing Way ³Love never fails. Do we not see evidence of such love in the congregations of Jehovah¶s worshipers earth wide? That love will last forever. for Jehovah promises everlasting life to his faithful servants. keep on loving²for all eternity. Indeed. we can experience the greater happiness that comes from giving. In fact. More than that. the miraculous gifts would eventually cease anyway. and is a brother that is born for when there is distress 2 Corinthians 8:8 It is not in the way of commanding YOU.´ What did Paul mean by those words? As seen in the context. However. or speak in tongues. self-sacrificing brotherly love identifies Jesus¶ true followers. prophesy. that did not matter. than any miraculous gift. O my son. the Christian love that Paul described ³never fails. 12 The discipline of Jehovah. Yet. 29) May we continue to do our best to ³go on walking in love. something every Christian could cultivate. (Psalm 37:9-11. 22 21 Quoted Scriptures Colossians 3:13 Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Jehovah. Proverbs 12:25 Anxious care in the heart of a man is what will cause it to bow down. Those gifts served as signs that God¶s favor was on the newly formed congregation. that I am speaking Proverbs 3:11. It was more outstanding. 12 because the one whom Jehovah loves he reproves. But not all Christians could heal. Even as Jehovah freely forgave YOU.´ By doing so.

but love covers over even all transgressions Proverbs 17:9 The one covering over transgression is seeking love. Ephesians 5:3.Proverbs 10:12 Hatred is what stirs up contentions. A·pol´los watered. even as the Lord granted each one. 18 When he came to his senses. He that is joyful at [another¶s] disaster will not be free from punishment 1 Corinthians 12:31 But keep zealously seeking the greater gifts. but God kept 7 making [it] grow. YOU people are God¶s field under cultivation. each one as God has distributed to him a measure of faith. and he that keeps talking about a matter is separating those familiar with one another Romans 15:1 We. and not to be pleasing ourselves 1 Thessalonians 5:14 On the other hand. but each [person] will receive his own reward according to his own labor. brothers. And yet I show YOU a surpassing way . he said. just as it befits holy people. but rather the giving of thanks Ephesians 4:26. so that neither is he that plants anything nor is he that waters. 27 neither allow place for the Devil Proverbs 17:5 He that is holding the one of little means in derision has reproached his Maker. things which are not becoming. Now he that plants and he that waters are one. I planted. while I am perishing here from famine! 18 I will rise and journey to my father and say to him: ³Father. then. let the sun not set with YOU in a provoked state. be long-suffering toward all Luke 15:17. though. we exhort YOU. and yet do not sin. I have sinned against heaven and against you. support the weak. 27 Be wrathful. is A·pol´los? Yes. weep with people who weep 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 What. but to think so as to have a sound mind. God¶s building 6 Romans 12:3 For through the undeserved kindness given to me I tell everyone there among YOU not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think. 4 Let fornication and uncleanness of every sort or greediness not even be mentioned among YOU. And for them there is no stumbling block James 4:5 Or does it seem to YOU that the scripture says to no purpose: ³It is with a tendency to envy that the spirit which has taken up residence within us keeps longing´? Romans 12:15 Rejoice with people who rejoice. 4 neither shameful conduct nor foolish talking nor obscene jesting. but God who makes [it] 8 grow.´ Proverbs 12:18 There exists the one speaking thoughtlessly as with the stabs of a sword. but the tongue of the wise ones is a healing Psalm 119:165 Abundant peace belongs to those loving your law. µHow many hired men of my father are abounding with bread. what is Paul? Ministers through whom YOU became believers. admonish the disorderly. who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those not strong. speak consolingly to the depressed souls. 9 For we are God¶s fellow workers.