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“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

The love this is speaking about here is not human love, but it is agape love which is based in moral preference, and which prefers what God prefers, which is what is holy, godly, righteous, morally pure, upright, honest, faithful, and obedient to the Lord and to his commands under the New Covenant. The Christian who loves with this kind of love prefers to live through Christ, choosing his choices, and obeying them in his power.

Therefore, however we interpret the words written here in this passage of Scripture, it must agree with agape love. It cannot and it must not contradict God’s moral character nor his divine will and purpose for humankind which he has expressed to us in the written Scriptures. So we should not interpret these words in the context of human love which is based in human emotions and in the one who is being loved.

So, when this says that love is patient, it is not saying that love is tolerant and accepting of sin. It is not saying that it is okay for a professing Christian to be continuing in deliberate and habitual sin, as a matter of life course, and that we should not ever press for those who profess the name of Jesus to forsake their sinful practices and to now walk in holiness and in righteousness, and in obedience to our Lord.

To be patient literally means to be long-tempered, refusing to retaliate with anger, because of human reasoning. Or it means longsuffering, being willing to suffer for a long time with being mistreated and with being rejected and hated and misunderstood in order to show love to others and in order to share with them the truth of the gospel which can save their souls from hell. But it is not accepting of evil, especially in the lives of professing Christians.

Now, a lot of people think it is kind to lie to people in order to make them feel good about themselves, and/or to withhold the truth that they know that the people need because they don’t want those people to dislike them. That is not kind. That is selfish! Kindness is saying to people and doing for people what is for their good, for their benefit, as God determines good, not as humans do, and that includes speaking the truth in love to them.

We are not to be envious of other people and what they have that we do not have, wishing that we would have that, and even, perhaps, that they would not have that. But we are to be content with what we have and we should be happy for others and what they have, if it is something good. For envy is selfish and greedy, and it can turn to bitterness and resentment and even anger and being spiteful. And some people murder to get what others have.

We are also not to be braggarts who vaunt ourselves and who puff ourselves up so that people will think we are great. But this is not saying that we cannot share our joys or our victories or our testimonies of what God has done and is doing in and through our lives as encouragement to others and as a testimony of God’s saving grace. We can! We are encouraged to do so in the Scriptures, and Paul did this often. But he gave all the glory to God.

Now being boastful and being arrogant go hand in hand, so they are really two sides of the same whole. And those who are arrogant take pride in themselves and in their own accomplishments and they crave human approval and acceptance. But those who are arrogant will not humble themselves before the Lord and submit to his will and purpose for their lives, for they want to be the ones in control. For it is truly all about them.

Now this word translated here as “rude” has to do with acting in a way that is improper and dishonorable and unseemly (indecent, immoral, morally offensive, crude, filthy, and lewd, etc.). We are not to be people who share crude humor or lewd jokes or comments or who act in any way that is regarded biblically as immoral, indecent, and morally impure. And we should not entertain ourselves in like manner, either.

We are not to insist on our own way. Now we should insist on the ways of God for those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, and we should insist on what is morally pure and upright and honest, etc., because that is right in the eyes of God, and it is for the good of other humans. But we are not to be selfish people who always have to have things our way and who are not willing to compromise and work with others in non-essential areas.

We are not to be irritable people who go around with “a chip on our shoulders” (an expression) who are always looking to pick a fight with someone. We are not to be those who provoke others to anger for sport, just to get a reaction out of them. But, on the other side of this coin, if we are those who are speaking the truth of the gospel, it is going to incite some people to anger against us, and the Scriptures tell us about that.

We are also not to be resentful and “get even” kind of people who trade “tit for tat,” i.e. who keep records of others’ wrongdoings to us so that we can do back to them what they did to us. Now this does not mean that we are to turn a blind eye to habitual and deliberate sin in the lives of those who profess the name of Jesus, for we are to be those who speak the truth in love and who exhort one another so we are not led astray by sin.

And yes! We are not to be people who rejoice in wrongdoing, but we are to rejoice with the truth. So we should not entertain ourselves with what is morally wrong (sinful), and we should not applaud in others what is biblically regarded as sin. But we are to rejoice with the truth, even the hard truths of the Scriptures which we might not find entertaining but uncomfortable and even challenging. For it is the truth which sets people free!

Now we must be careful that we interpret this last sentence in light of all the teachings of the Scriptures, and in light of God’s divine character and will for our lives and his teachings on love, holiness, and righteousness. For we are not to bear up with (tolerate) evil, and we are not to believe everything, which would include lies, and we are not to put our hope in all things, and we are not to endure (tolerate) everything, which would include sin.

But if we understand “love” as agape love, which prefers what God prefers, which is what is honest, faithful, morally pure, and obedient to the Lord, and which prefers to live through Christ and to obey his choices for us, in his power, then we must realize that this bearing and believing and hoping and enduring all things has to do with all things related to God and to all that he prefers, which is all that is godly, upright, and morally pure, etc.

So context is critical for us to correctly handle the word of truth. And as much as is possible, if we can find the true meaning to words translated into our languages out of the Greek or Hebrew, it would be very beneficial to our true understanding of what the Scriptures are teaching so that we don’t interpret them in the wrong direction. And then always interpret the Scriptures in light of the divine character and will of God.

Love Must Be Genuine

An Original Work / October 22, 2013
Based off Romans 12:9-21

Love must be genuine.
Hate what’s evil; cling to good.
Love each other with affection.
Show respect for ev’ryone.
Never lack in your zeal.
Serve the Lord with diligence.

Rejoice in steadfast hope.
In affliction, patient be.
Keep on praying; share with others.
Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute.
Feel with others sympathy.

Be not filled with conceit.
Daily sit at Jesus’ feet.
Live in harmony with others.
Live at peace with ev’ryone.
Repay not to someone
With the evil he begot.

Do not take your revenge;
Leave it to the wrath of God.
If your enemy is thirsty,
Give to him something to drink.
Do what’s right for mankind.
Evil: overcome with good.