To be loving is the aspiration of many people across the world. What markers show a person to be loving? Here are six to begin with. You can use them to evaluate the health of your own love. You can also think about them as ways to improve the quality of your love for others.
Compassion sees the state of another person and is moved to action. Firstly, compassion is not possible in a fast-paced life. We need to slow down and truly see each other, if we are to reach out and support each other. Secondly, compassion is emotionally engaged. It is not cold. It is the warm embrace of those whose path is different or who are less fortunate than us.
Kindness sacrifices self for the good of another. Kind people are touched by another person’s story and bring good things to them so they prosper. They say kind things and they do kind things with a genuine care.
Humility ends the battle in relationships to prove ourselves or to gain power. Truly humble people are free from pride to wound. They do not think of their own needs without thinking of how those needs can serve others. When a task needs to be fulfilled, humble people do not assume they are the only people who can do it well. They also do not feel so especially unimportant that they should not do the job. Humble people are truly free from thinking too much or too little of themselves, so they engage with a purity which comes from inner peace.
To be gentle makes allowance for others’ lack of strength. Gentle people are willing to accommodate. People like this accommodate differences in strength and differences in opinion. Gentle people are reasonable. Their voices are even and calm. Their plans include others.
In any relationship a line will be crossed – it may be crossed multiple times. Loving people do not strike back blow-for-blow or pound-for-pound. Patient people do not fight every battle. They know the truth that emotions ebb and flow and mistakes are made by everyone. They endure.
Patient, loving people forgive many times over. The desire to maintain the relationship will see many do-overs or restarts. Solid relationships are like havens where truth can be told without repercussions. When there is repentance there is restoration. When a person makes a mistake they do not fear rejection, they know that true love is not contingent on performance. True love longs for fresh starts. A lover chooses to forget.
Becoming a Better Lover
We all need to be better lovers. Not only in the romantic sense, but in the human connections we all have in daily life. There is enough love to go around, we need to stop fighting like we are competing for a scarce resource. We need to see transformation, so we can love from the generous abundance of the resources we are given within.
These aspects of love are drawn from Paul’s letter to the Colossians. He declared that love binds these six aspects together. Love is a gift from God, and to truly love means to be united with God in His love.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.