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.

Love is…

Patient – 

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.

Kind –

Is thoughtful; has a gentle, helpful, considerate nature; is empathetic, compassionate; gracious; merciful; worthy; good; useful; understanding and affectionate where it is proper.

Attentive –

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.

Consoling –

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.

Confident –

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.

Modest –

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.

Humble –

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.

Gracious –

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.

Considerate –

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.

Good-natured –

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.

Forgiving –

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.

Joyful –

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.

Playful –

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.

Forbearing –

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.

Believing –

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.

Hopeful –

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.

Fair –

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.

Enduring –

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.

Endless –

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.