In his book Set Your Hearts on the Greatest Gift, Morton Kelsey writes of living the art of Christian love. After studying Paul’s beautiful description of love in I Corinthians 13, Kelsey suggests concrete examples of what it means to live a life of Christian love.
I personally find I Corinthians 13 especially helpful for all who long for more love in life. If you really are eager to experience God-like love, then this is the road-map to follow. You cannot expect healthy love to come into your life until you learn what it looks like and how to love others and yourself in a healthy way. Yes, you must learn how to live a life of love in order for you to experience love completely.
I have taken Kelsey’s outline provided in his book and have expanded upon it slightly.
Enduring trials and bearing pain calmly; can wait until the time is good; never gives up; is never picky or demanding; does not have expectations of others; deals without defensiveness with conflict and criticism even when things seem unfair; chooses actions rather than reactions to emotions; understands and appropriately respects personal boundaries in self and others.
Is thoughtful; has a gentle, helpful, considerate nature; is empathetic, compassionate; gracious; merciful; worthy; good; useful; understanding and affectionate where it is proper.
Listens to others with patience; hearing what a person says and doesn’t say; sees the value of others and of the Holy Spirit who dwells in them; does not place value judgments on other’s stories; knows that only as we listen to others and share their burdens can we bring healing to them.
Recognizes the pain of grief and sorrow of others and reaches out to them where they are at; is therefore compassionate to them; is willing to be with suffering, dying, bereaving people without needing to hurry along their journey of grief.
Is not jealous, envious or possessive and is not fearful of losing the affection and concern of others or of God; is friendly to all, no matter what the circumstances; is secure in the knowledge that all will be well in the end.
Is not boastful; not overbearing; not given to excessive pride; is not pompous or snobbish; reserved; unobtrusive and discreet; does not wish to be showy or to be the center of attention; is not a wind bag.
Is not arrogant or proud; not overly convinced of one’s own importance; treats all others as human beings of equal value; knows all of us have sometimes failed; is not pushy or forceful with one’s opinion; is not judgmental or condemning of others.
Is never rude; is tolerant of the attitudes and feelings of others; does not behave offensively or in an unseemly manner; is not ill-mannered; is polite, courteous and proper; is civil.
Is yielding, compliant and flexible (respecting and understanding boundaries); thoughtful; accommodating; willing and able to listen; does not insist on or persist in pressing for or demanding one’s own way; is compromising; does not have expectations; is not selfish, self-seeking or self-centered.
Is not easily stirred up to wrath; not irritable; not easily angered; not touchy, ill-tempered or easily provoked; not easily annoyed or exasperated; is easygoing; does not lose one’s head.
Pardons the faults of others while honoring personal boundaries; does not have outbursts of rage; keeps no record of wrong even on oneself; is not resentful or hostile; is not inclined to feel bitterness or resentment; does not hold grudges; sees no human being as faultless; does not keep a tally of evils, injuries and nastiness.
Has joy in the righteous and kind; delights in the holy and is open to experiencing God’s truth; is jubilant when good appears; exalts in song and praise and love, never rejoices in the wrong, ugly or devious; is never happy about those who suffer evil or injustice; never delights in the hurts of others.
Is merry (as if always celebrating the great cosmic drama of Christmas); does not take oneself too seriously; enjoys a playful interchange with human beings; is never afraid of laughing at oneself; never celebrates darkness, depression and dejection; is not sarcastic or does not make jokes at someone else’s expense.
Puts up with and bears difficulties; persists when all seems hopeless; bears up under rejection; does not take personally the faults of others; keeps confidences and does not gossip; does not judge; does not complain about hardships; is tenacious in the face of evil or adversity.
Trusts and accepts the truth; is open-minded to new truth; has a firm conviction that a loving Creator has made our universe and all of us; is always hoping to find truthfulness and goodness in others; does not project faults on others; is not overly doubtful or suspicious.
Is encouraging; nurturing ; always expects the best in others (without being naïve or neglecting personal boundaries); looks forward to healthy goals with expectations of fulfillment; never expects the worst nor is happy with pessimism; is expectant; looks for the good in this world and the world to come; foresees the good.
Is honest and strives to live a life of integrity (where one’s actions match his/her words); respects justice without demanding it in his/her time; takes a stand against prejudice, inequality, discrimination and unfairness.
Is faithful and steadfast; carries through in spite of difficulties and hardships; is respectful of fear, moving through it rather than stuck in it; stands firm when others flee; never gives up hope for self, others or the world; waits with solid confidence for God’s help.
Is eternal; goes on forever, world without end; is unconditional; endures without limit; never ends; is divine, holy, Godlike; never drifts off course; never fails, loses or weakens in one’s conviction of love.