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Rick Renner pastors a church in Russia. He knows Greek very well, and daily sends out a teaching letter called "Sparkling Gems". In this letter he takes verses from the Bible and by looking at the meaning of some of the Greek words in those verses, expounds on the verse and teaches in more detail what the verse means.

For the last few days the teaching letter was on 1 Corinthians 13 - the love chapter.

Today I want to share with you the expanded interpretation of the different phrases, as Rick taught them in his letter. I am not going to explain the meaning of the different Greek words as he did, but just give you the phrase as it is written in the Bible, and then Rick's expanded interpretation.

Rick likens this chapter to a mirror. When we look into this mirror, and are honest with ourselves, we will be able to see if our lives truly reflect the kind of love the Lord wants us to exhibit towards others. 

Let us be brave enough to look into this mirror and see how we measure up.

Rick begins his teaching by telling us what 'agape' love really is: "Agape is a divine love that gives and gives and gives, even if it's never responded to, thanked, or acknowledged. You could say that agape is a love that isn't based on response but on a decision to keep on loving, regardless of a recipient's response or lack of response."

Now we know what 'agape' love is, let us look at the different characteristics of this love:

Love is patient - "Love patiently and passionately bears with others for as long as patience is needed."

Love is kind - "Love doesn't demand others to be like itself; rather, it is so focused on the needs of others that it bends over backwards to become what others need it to be."

Love is not jealous - "Love is not ambitious, self-centred, or so consumed with itself that it never thinks of the needs or desires that others possess."

Love does not brag - "Love doesn't go around talking about itself all the time, constantly exaggerating and embellishing the facts to make it look more important in the sight of others."

Love is not arrogant - "Love does not behave in a prideful, arrogant, haughty, superior, snooty, snobbish, or clannish manner."

Love does not act unbecomingly - "Love is not rude and discourteous it is not careless or thoughtless, nor does it carry on in a fashion that would be considered insensitive to others."

Love does not seek its own - "Love does not manipulate situations or scheme and devise methods that will twist situations to its own advantage."

Love is not provoked - "Love does not deliberately engage in actions or speak words that are so sharp, they cause an ugly or violent response."

Love does not take into account a wrong suffered - "Love does not deliberately keep records of wrongs or past mistakes."

Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness - "Love does not feel overjoyed when it sees an injustice done to someone else."

Love rejoices with the truth - "Love is elated, thrilled, ecstatic, and overjoyed with the truth."

Love bears all things - "Love protects, shields, guards, covers, conceals, and safeguards people from exposure."

Love believes all things - "Love strains forward with all its might to believe the very best in every situation."

Love hopes all things - "Love always expects and anticipates the best in others and the best for others."

Love endures all things - "Love never quits, never surrenders, and never gives up."

Love never fails - "Love never disappoints, never fails, and never lets anyone down."

By looking at these expanded interpretations of the characteristics of love, I have found that I do not always love others the way the Lord loves me.

I have learnt that it is easy to look at the words the translators chose to use when translating these verses, and to think I am okay, I am doing things God's way, but when I look at the true meaning of the words, I find I am not really doing what I thought I was doing.

When you look at the expanded interpretations, do you see yourself as truly loving God's way, or do you also find you have been falling short of God's standard?

Let us thank the Lord for showing us where we have not been loving towards others, and let us allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and change us so we become more like Jesus and love others in the exact same way He loves us.

* Expanded interpretations taken from "Sparkling Gems" by Rick Renner. If you would like to read what he wrote about the love chapter, send me an e-mail (ris@tjie.co.za) and I will send you the "Sparkling Gems" dealing with this chapter.