What do you mean when you tell someone, “I love you”? What are you describing with those words? For most people, there’s no question that saying “I love you” is a description of a feeling. It says, “I feel loving toward you right now.”

The Bible talks about love quite differently.

For the apostle Paul, love is more than a feeling. For him, as it was for DC Talk in the 90s, love is a verb.

Paul begins 1 Corinthians 13 by describing the superiority of love over every spiritual gift. So if we’re convinced that love is the superior virtue of the Christian life, then a natural question is “What does it look like?” How do we know if we’re loving rightly?

Paul anticipates that question by writing 1 Corinthians 13:4–7. He gives us a list of 15 ways love acts. This is love in street clothes. This is what love looks like and what it does.

Like most lists in Scripture, Paul’s list is not comprehensive. It’s an entry-level description of love. And it’s designed for us to look in the mirror and do some self-evaluation. It’s designed to be confrontational, but we need to be ready to be confronted.

Notice that in Paul’s list you can replace the word “love” with “Jesus” and it reads just as easily.

What happens if you put your name in? Is it true? Which of the 15 attributes stings the sharpest?

Love is easier said than done, but Paul won’t let us get away with merely saying it. You can’t just talk a good game.

In our next post, we’ll dive into the 15 attributes of love and see where we can grow.