We humans always claim to love each other… especially when we don’t. We usually defend our most selfish actions by claiming, falsely, that we did it out of genuine concern for other people. Sadly, sometimes we actually believe our own lies. A Christian needs to make sure that his/her actions are motivated by real love, not fake, self-serving love. Here are a few characteristics that can help us differentiate between real love and fake love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. (I Corinthians 13:4 NIV)
Real love is patient. If you truly love someone you will take the necessary time to amicably settle disputes with them. You should not always insist that they see things your way immediately. True change takes time, and sometimes you need to patiently wait for God to change their hearts and minds. You must not desert a friend simply because they will not see things the same way as you right away. There are some important disputes that we must not compromise on at all, but in most situations patience is preferable. We must never give up on the ones we love, no matter how hard-hearted they may seem.
Love is kind. With should not be harsh with someone we have a disagreement with, even if it is an important disagreement. Sometimes we have to tell our friends an unpleasant truth, but even then we must be very sensitive in how we tell it to them. We must be sure to tell them in the kindest, not the meanest way. Taking joy in someone else’s pain is not love: that is revenge.
Love does not envy. If you love someone you are genuinely happy when they do well. You do not get angry with them for being successful. Rather, you should pray and hope for their success.
Love does not boast. It is not loving to brag about how great you are, because this implies that your friends are inferior to you. If you love someone you will congratulate them on their successes, rather than constantly reminding them of yours.
Love is not proud. If you love someone you see them and treat them as more important than yourself. If Jesus Christ the Son of God can willingly wash the feet of sinners, then you can too.