Our culture markets chocolates, flowers, and conversation hearts as a way to show affection. There is certainly no question that love is of great value, and if sales reports are any indication of our beliefs, then most of us make sure to celebrate with our pocketbook.

But while we adhere to society’s traditional hallmarks of love, do we take the time to remind ourselves of God’s hallmarks?

Christ wants to see maturing disciples characterized by love, because “by this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

What did Jesus mean by “love”? The apostle Paul described divine love—the type God shows for us—with 13 thought provoking characteristics in 1 Corinthians 13.

Love:

  1. “suffers long” (v. 4)—loves difficult people without being difficult in return.
  2. “is kind” (v. 4)—reflects a merciful and good heart.
  3. “does not envy” (v. 4)—does not resent others based on their position or possessions.
  4. “does not parade itself, is not puffed up” (v. 4)—builds others up rather than self-promotes.
  5. “does not behave rudely” (v. 5)—is considerate of others.
  6. “does not seek its own” (v. 5)—puts the interests of others ahead of self-interest.
  7. “is not provoked” (v. 5)—is not easily irritated.
  8. “thinks no evil” (v. 5)—does not hold grudges but practices forgiveness.
  9. “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth” (v. 6)—acts with honesty and integrity.
  10. “bears all things” (v. 7)—demonstrates patience and understanding with the faults of others.
  11. “believes all things” (v. 7)—gives others the benefit of the doubt.
  12. “hopes all things”(v. 7)—desires the best for others.
  13. “endures all things”(v. 7)—does not give up on anyone.

Only the power of the Holy Spirit can give us this type of love. At the same time, love is a choice, not an emotion. Love springs from an act of the will when we choose to obey Christ. Feelings or emotion may or may not be present. In fact, we may feel that a particular person is not deserving of our love.

It is important to remember that God chose to love us, even when we don’t deserve it (see Rom. 5:8). When people see the love of Christ in our lives, it better prepares them to hear the message of Christ through our words.

Ask God to help you obey His command to love others regardless of your desire or feelings. Then measure your love by His standard, not yours.