BY MICHELLE WILLIAMS, VOLUNTEER EXTRAORDINAIRE
The sixth ingredient in the Good Life is one that mostly everyone wants in life. Although it’s a fairly universal desire, it can be defined in many different ways—like the accomplishment of a goal or purpose, the attainment of popularity, and making a lot of money. The latter is often the default by which people define this common desire. The ingredient is Success, but God defines it much differently than people often do.
God’s Success is achieved when his children love one another—Love is the essential practice that brings Success into the Good Life. To understand the practice of Love, Pastor Tim guided us through 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. God’s Love is the “agape” variety. It’s a word of Greek origin that means “to always be thinking of what you can do that is the very best for another person without expecting anything in return.”
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
Loving others with agape love can actually be quite a challenge. “Others” implies that we are not only loving our family, friends and neighbors in this way—but also our enemies. When viewed through the lens of God’s heart, this kind of love can seem nearly impossible at times.
In the verses from 1 Corinthians, Paul is laying out a set of practical guidelines for the essential practice of Love for the people of Corinth. In that time, the people had become full of arrogance, causing the church’s reputation to sink. Paul wanted to impress upon the church that faith and charity is worthless unless the people were capable of loving others.
Below are the guidelines for practicing love that Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians, along with expanded meaning from the corresponding Greek terms:
Love is patient
Greek term: Makrothumei
To love is to be willing to suffer a long time due to the ignorance, incompetence or lack of understanding of others.
Love is kind
Greek term: Chrestiueitai
To love is to be an especially honorable person whose life is worth copying; who treats everyone with equal dignity and concern.
Love does not envy
Greek term: Zeloi
To love is to let go of your own self-interests in order to think of what is best for others.
Love does not boast
Greek term: Perpereuetai
To love is to abandon self-absorption and bragging (a.k.a. “not being a windbag”—Tim Ayers).
Love is not proud
Greek term: Phusioutai
To love is to resign from being swollen up with your own self.
Love does not dishonor others
Greek term: Askemonei
To love is to honor others with words, and never be disgraceful, overly critical, sarcastic, or cynical.
Love is not self-seeking
Greek term: Zetai ta eautes
To love is to avoid being so preoccupied with self interests that we are unable to recognize the needs of others.
Love is not easily angered
Greek term: Parozunetai
To love is to maintain self-control in times of disagreement.
Love keeps no record of wrong
Greek term: Logizetai to kakon
To love is to not write down the evil actions of others or hold grudges.
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth
Greek term: Ekairei epi te adikia
To love is to celebrate only things connected with truth and to leave no place for finding joy in anything that is dark or immoral.
Love always protects
Greek term: Stegei panta
To love is to keep confidentiality and not engage in gossip.
Love always trusts
Greek term: Pisteuei panta
To love is to opt to see the possibility of good in others.
Love always hopes
Greek term: Elpizei panta
To love is to always desire the best for others.
Love always perseveres
Greek term: Hupomenoi panta
To love is to stay behind while others leave and to be dependable even in bad times.
Love never fails
Greek term: Agape oudepote piptei
To love is to never collapse in destruction, but stand firm and always succeed in accomplishing the goal of love.
Every moment is a chance to show every person we meet the kind of love that Jesus Christ would have shown to them. We can change the world with this kind of love, and enter into God’s Success. Although this kind of love expects nothing in return, something wonderful happens to those who practice it: people trust them, hold them in a place of honor, and believe that they have depth of character. They share hope with people the same way that Jesus did. They start to close the credibility gap. Changing the world in Jesus’ name is true Success.
""True success doesn't come by building on your strengths, it comes from fighting your weaknesses."" —David Brooks
The Way of Discipleship is a great way to learn about and have the opportunity to practice agape love.