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Love: An Action or a Lifestyle?

By: Bodé Adeboyejo 

In my last article, I opened with an adage that says that “You learn something new everyday.”  May I add that I found that adage to be true – again!  I’m still learning something new everyday.  No!  Not about nursing a baby this time. This time it’s about love. 

I used to say (and probably must have written) that love is an action; i.e., it’s what you do, not what you say.  And if you love, you do.  “Love acts,” I would often quip!  But then reading 1 Corinthians 13 again recently, I learned something that has been there all the time, which I’d missed every time I read 1 Corinthians 13, until now.  

I learned that love is NOT an action but a lifestyle!   

Throughout the ages, we (people) have always associated love with words -- what we say (verbal or written), or with things -- what we get or give, or with actions -- what we do.  But love is anything but words, things or even actions! 

So this time of the year, when the whole world celebrates Valentine’s Day, I think it is a good time to talk about love.    

Like me, you probably already know that love is not what we say, nor what we give or get, but did you know that it’s not even what we do?  But what or who we ought to be!  

Love is not what we say, because 1 Corinthians 13:1 says “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.”  

Love is not what we give because 1 Corinthians 13:3 says that “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”  So, love is not the quality or quantity of what we give (or get). 

Neither is love what we do because 1 Corinthians 13:3 also says that even giving up our bodies to be burned is not love, if it’s not done with love. 

What the first three verses in 1 Corinthians 13 are saying is that it’s possible to say, give or even do love, without having love!  Just because someone does something that looks like love does not mean that it’s done with love.  That’s why love is not an emotion.  There’s a difference between love, compassion and emotion! 

The reason why love is not what we say, give or do is because if love is what we say, give or do, then it becomes conditional, seasonal or partial because we can’t say, give or do love all the time to all people.  However, if love is who we are, we can be love to all people all the time. 

So, if love is not what we say, give or do, what is love? 

Love is a lifestyle!  That is, what or who we ought to be.  1 Corinthians 13:4a says that “Love suffers long…” which means that love is patient.  For love to be patient, it has to be a lifestyle.  Patience is not a one time or selective thing.  If you noticed, the first three verses in 1 Corinthians 13 refer to actions; what we say, give or do.  But verse 4a refers to a lifestyle. 

Love is a lifestyle because it “…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1Corinthians 13:7.  And because it’s a lifestyle, “Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:8a.  Love is never without effect, i.e., it never stops loving, never stops being love. 

"It’s impossible to be a doer of the Word and not become love!" 

1 John 4:8 says that “…God is love.”  God is not love because of what He says, gives or does, but because of who He is. God is love; period.  Now, because of who He is –- love -- God says love, gives love, and does love.  As Christians, so we ought to be.   

Apostle Peter commanded us to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  Just as God wants us to be holy as He is holy, He wants us to be love as He is love.  1 John 4:17 says that Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.”  He wants us to be love so that we can be LOVEly.  To make sure that we become love, God even poured out His love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).

If God wants us to be love, how then can one be love? 

There are five simple steps to be love.  These are: 

  1. A genuine relationship with God through Jesus Christ
  2. Baptism with the Holy Spirit
  3. Mind Renewal
  4. Bible Reading/Studying
  5. Bible Living

The first step to becoming love is by establishing a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. You can’t be who God is without establishing a relationship with Him to know Him.  It is by giving your life to God through Jesus Christ that you can then be filled with the Holy Spirit.  So once you’ve given your life to Christ, it’s important that you are baptized with the Holy Spirit. 

Now, having given your life to Christ and being baptized with the Holy Spirit empowers you to renew your mind from worldly ways of thinking. You can’t change your ways if you don’t change your thinking.  You renew your mind with the washing of the water of the Word.  That’s why it’s important that you know God for yourself through His Word (by reading and studying the Bible). 

Reading and studying the Bible without applying or living the Bible profits you nothing!  Apostle Paul says in Romans 2:13 “for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified.”  And Apostle James followed, saying, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” -- James 1:22. 

It is important that we live the Word. It is by living the Word that we become love.  The more you are a doer of the Word, the more you become love. It’s impossible to be a doer of the Word and not become love! 

Besides, it is by being love that we obey Christ’s commandment in Matthew 5:44. When you are love you can “…love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”  But if you just say, give or do love, it will be only to those you like and those who like you; not your enemies.  But God is able to love us in spite of ourselves, even while we were yet sinners, because He is love.   

Now let me say that, it’s nothing wrong to say love – if you mean it.  It’s nothing wrong to give love – unconditionally.  It’s nothing wrong to do love – to God’s glory, and not to man’s honor. But it’s even better to be love!   

My dear brothers and sisters, as the world goes about celebrating a perverted and misunderstood love, let us strive to be love, especially those of us in the “household of faith.”  Remember, when we are love, love manifests itself in what we say, give and do. 

May the good Lord help us all to be love!  Amen!


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