We need information, inspiration, application and direction in order to build and sustain healthy relationships. Love lays the foundation for the kind of relationships that double the joy and cut the burdens in half. God’s Word tells us exactly what love is.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. I Corinthians 13:4-7
These are the characteristics of love and they are skills we can develop.
- The Skill of Patience – Patient people feel the same amount of irritation the rest of us do, but in the emotionally charged moments they make different choices. They pause and remind themselves of how valuable people are.
- The Skill of Kindness – Those who have developed the skill of kindness act with mercy and tenderness toward others. They love, not just with words, but with actions. (I John 3:18) They scroll through the available options and find the manifestation of love that will have the deepest meaning.
- The Skill of Contentment – Envy is an inky black relational poison. It pollutes our perspective of others. People develop the skill of contentment by seeing what they have through the lens of gratitude. They recognize everything they have is a gift they don’t deserve. Gratitude frees them to love anyone, no matter their status or their stuff.
- The Skill of Humility – Arrogance repelled others. It creates relational canyons. Those who have the skill of humility are self-aware. They know who they are and who they are not.
Jesus told us the thief comes to kill, steal and destroy but he came so that we would have abundant life. (John 10:10) Both of these scenarios play out in the context of our relationships. The enemy sends relationships that tear us down. He slips in and distorts the very relationships that should be enriching our lives. Jesus sends relationships that build us up. When we develop the skills of love, our relationships will flourish.