Love as God Defined It (Part 1)

Love as God Defined It // Young Wives ClubLove as God Defined It

In our day and age, we have forgotten what love really is. On the one hand, we live in a culture which uses the word “love” at the drop of a hat – “I love your top!”, “Oh, I just love pumpkin pie!”, “I love it when it snows”. These statements are made innocuously, of course, and I innocently say them myself on a regular basis. Without meaning to, though, what we have done is so overused the word that we have forgotten what it actually even means. Additionally, we are inundated with romance movies, inappropriate novels, and other forms of media which so misconstrue and misrepresent love that we are left wondering what love even is anymore. Or else we simply blindly embrace the entertainment industry’s definitions of it, believing love to be all about falling head over heels for someone at first site, always buying the girl flowers or making eyes at the guy, or riding off into the sunset with no arguments or issues ever arising in one’s relationship.

None of these examples even come close to love as God designed and defined it. God is love (see 1 John 4:8), so we would do well to take our viewpoint of it from Him and Him alone. With that end in mind, we are going to take a look at the love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13, focusing in on a portion of it, verses 4-8a, which is likely quite familiar to all of us. We’re going to go back to the Greek and get a full picture of just what Paul had in mind when he, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, laid out for us once and for all what love truly is. Join me as we discover the true definition of love and thereby equip ourselves to be able to lead lives where we put 1 Corinthians 13 into action in all our relationships, not the least of which being our marriages!

What Love Actually Is

Because of the nature of this site, we are going to zero in on how we can apply this passage specifically to our marriages, though I do encourage you to keep in mind how it can be applied when you come into contact with anyone, friend, stranger, and family member alike. As we go through and study this passage, I’m simply going to be asking you a series of reflection questions to help you access the level to which you are applying these truths to your own marriage relationship. So, let’s dive right in!

According to this passage we’re studying today, love…

  • suffers long.

The Greek word here is “makrothymeō and is defined as:

  1. to be of a long spirit, not to lose heart

    1. to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles

    2. to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others

      1. to be mild and slow in avenging

      2. to be longsuffering, slow to anger, slow to punish

Talk about a tall order, right? When your husband offends you in some way, do you hold a grudge? Do you nurse your wounds, rehash the situation over and over again in your head, and harbor bitterness in your heart? Note the definition about persevering patiently in the midst of misfortunes and troubles. If your husband makes a decision-be it financial, job-related, or otherwise-that does not turn out very well, how do you respond? Do you make him feel like a failure and an idiot or do you pick him back up, brush him off, and encourage him to get back on the path of victory, believing good will come from the situation? Are you slow to avenge yourself? Are you slow to punish him for the ways in which he lets you down?

  • is kind.

The Greek word here is “chrēsteuomai” and is defined as:

  1. to show one’s self mild, to be kind, use kindness

Would your husband describe you in this way? Are you mild-mannered? Is your default practice to be kind and use kindness or is moodiness, frustration, or anger your go-to? Do you respond to your husband with kindness on the bad days as well as the good? Does he receive kindness from you even when he’s being annoying or has hurt you?
  •  does not envy.

The Greek word for envy here is “zēloō” and is defined as:

  1. to burn with zeal

    1. to be heated or to boil with envy, hatred, anger

That’s sobering to think about! We don’t want to boil with hatred towards our husbands, but the implication of this definition being included in this passage is that sometimes we do act this way, and we have to actively fight against it. Do you ever envy your husband? Do you envy the apparent surplus of free-time he seems to have while you are busy tending to the cooking, cleaning, childcare, laundry, and more? Does this make you angry? Do you hate the seeming discrepancy in the division of labor in your home? Rather than showing envy towards your husband, how could you address the situation with him in a truly loving way?

  • does not parade itself.

The Greek word here for “parade” is “perpereuomai” and is defined as:

  1. to boast one’s self
  2. a self display, employing rhetorical embellishments in extolling one’s self excessively

I’ve heard it said that true love has a “There you are!” mentality as opposed to a “Here I am!” mentality. Is your husband made to feel this way? When you’re together, are you always busy focusing on yourself, sharing about your accomplishments that day, and speaking highly of what you did? Or do you fix your focus on your husband, asking him about his wins that day, seeking to find out what went well for him at work, and making him feel special in your eyes? When speaking with others do you primarily share about yourself and your accomplishments, or do you praise your husband in public, sharing about all that he is doing well?

  • is not puffed up.

The Greek word here for “puffed up” is “physioō” and is defined as:

  1. to inflate, blow up, to cause to swell up

    1. to puff up, make proud

    2. to be puffed up, to bear one’s self loftily, be proud

This is closely related to the word we just looked at, but again, are you prideful in your relationship? Is your focus on yourself or on your husband? How do you think your husband would answer that question?

  • does not behave rudely.

The Greek word here is “aschēmoneō” and is defined as:

  1. to act unbecomingly

This is closely related to suffering long and being kind. Where do you come on this measuring stick of love? Do you regularly act in a rude, unbecoming manner towards your husband? Are you short with him? Do you tend to make snide remarks, particularly when he has done something to annoy you? Are you annoying? Are you given to nagging? Do you regularly attack his ego? Are you pleasant and enjoyable to be around or harsh and difficult to spend time with?

  • does not seek its own.

The Greek word here for “seek” is “zēteō” and is defined as:

  1. to seek i.e. require, demand

    1. to crave, demand something from someone

Does this describe you? Are you more focused on what would make you happy or are you concerned with what would make your husband happy? When it comes to what restaurant you will eat at, what your date night will consist of, what your holiday plans will be, what vacation will look like this year, etc., do you always insist on doing what you want to do and going where you want to go? Or do you put your husband’s desires above your own and instead seek his happiness and gratification? Is everything always about you, or do you look to the good of others, treating them as more important than yourself (see Philippians 2:3)?

  • is not provoked.

The Greek word here is “paroxynō” and is defined as:

  1. to irritate, provoke, arouse to anger

    1. to scorn, despise

    2. provoke, make angry

    3. to exasperate, to burn with anger

Yet another sobering concept! Do you regularly despise or scorn your husband with your words? When you are with your girlfriends (or your mom or sisters!) and you all start talking about your husbands, do you talk your husband up or do you share with the girls how annoying he can be or what ridiculous thing he did last week? Can the heart of your husband safely trust in you (see Proverbs 31:11)? Can he entrust his reputation to you, believing that you will not air all his dirty laundry to others? Are you speaking of him to your friends the way you would want him to speak of you to his? Do you allow his little petty annoyances to roll off your back, or do they provoke you, exasperate you, and cause you to burn with anger towards him?

Rebekah will be back next week with the conclusion!
Love as God Designed It //
Rebekah Hargraves
Rebekah Hargraves


Rebekah Hargraves is a wife, mama of two littles, home business owner, podcaster, and blogger residing in TN. Her passion is to bless fellow Christian women through her writings on her website, Hargraves Home and Hearth, which exists to edify, equip, and encourage women in their journey of Biblical womanhood.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This