The Character of Agape Love


by Rick Duncan, Founding Pastor

In 1 Corinthians 15:4-7, Paul gives us 15 characteristics of love that can preserve the unity in a marriage, in a family, in a relationship, and in the church.

In a sense, Paul is painting a picture of the way Jesus lived His life while on earth. You could substitute Jesus for the word “love” as you ponder each characteristic. 

Love is patient:                

You don’t have a short fuse. When you’ve been wronged, misunderstood, or slandered, you relate to others just as graciously as when everyone applauds you. You’re not quick to assert your rights. You’re not quick to resent an injury. You don’t lose your patience or temper, no matter how others treat you. You could avenge yourself, but you don’t. No matter how much others hurt you, you exercise the same patience to them that God exercises with you.

Love is kind:      

You have a pure and unselfish concern for the well-being of others. You do good to those who would do you harm. You are good-natured. You’re thoughtful. Yes, you seek to stand up for the truth; you want to be right. But you realize that right-ness without kindness is wrong! You remember that if you are not very kind, you are not very holy because holiness and kindness cannot be separated.

Love does not envy:

You do not burn with a desire to have the position or possessions that others have. Instead, you desire for others to be honored and esteemed. You refuse to be unhappy when others are preferred over you. You are content when the influence of others grows and your influence shrinks. You don’t begrudge what others have. You celebrate the success of others.

Love does not boast:

You’re not vain. You don’t brag about yourself. You acknowledge your failings more than you acknowledge your successes. You aren’t seeking to impress – to win the admiration and applause of others. You’re not trying to draw attention to yourself. You are able to serve in obscurity.

Love is not arrogant:

You are not puffed up. You don’t cherish inflated ideas about your own importance. You don’t think of yourself as better than or superior to others. You don’t put yourself first, but last. You don’t engage in attention-seeking behavior. You don’t parade your “gifts” and your “spirituality.” You’re not conceited. Instead, you’re humble.

Love is not rude:

You don’t behave in improper or ill-mannered ways. You’re not boorish or brutal. You don’t treat others unfairly. You don’t elbow your way into relationships or responsibilities. You act with tact and good taste. You demonstrate good manners. You’re polite, showing courtesy and respect toward others.

Love does not insist on its own way:

You are not a self-seeking, me-first person. You are not demanding or manipulative. You don’t have a sense of entitlement. You don’t seek your own advantage at the expense of others. Instead, you have an “others-first” mindset. You are prepared to give up even what you might be entitled to have. You think less about what you are owed and more about what you can give.

Love is not irritable:

You are not easily provoked, exasperated, or stirred up. You don’t overreact. You are not touchy. You are not overly sensitive or easily offended. You don’t throw temper tantrums.

You’re able to keep your cool when everyone else is losing theirs.

Love is not resentful:

You hardly even notice when others do you wrong. You do not tally up, keep score, or brood over the wrongs others committed against you. You do not store up the memories of the hurts that you have suffered. You don’t keep a ledger so that you don’t forget. You seek to treat others as if you have forgotten the wrong-doing committed against you.

Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing:

You do not spend your time tracking down or pointing out what’s wrong with others. You’re not suspicious – always attributing evil motives to others. The failures or mistakes of others is not a secret source of pleasure for you. You never gloat over someone else’s failure. You are not thrilled at the thought of lecturing someone about their shortcomings. You never relish the opportunity to say, “I told you so.” You are not happy when you have to say hard things to others. When you admonish or rebuke, you do so with a heavy and gracious heart.

Love rejoices with the truth:

You don’t veil the truth. Instead, you are brave enough face the truth. You have nothing to conceal. You are glad when what is true prevails. You rejoice even when facing hard truths about situations and circumstances, about others and yourself. You joyfully celebrate truth because you don’t have any hidden interests of your own.

Love bears all things:

You are willing to suffer in your relationships. You can endure annoyances, troubles, insults, injuries, and disappointments. You are loyal, never growing weary of showing support. You are willing to lend your shoulders to other’s burdens.

Love believes all things:

Although you don’t divest yourself of prudence and don’t allow yourself to taken advantage of, you don’t lose faith in others. Your first response is not to be suspicious. You look for the best in others. You believe the best about others. You give people the benefit of the doubt, whenever possible attributing good motives, not bad, to them.

Love hopes all things:

You expect that the best is yet to come. You are able to see people for who they could become tomorrow, not just for who they are today. Your hope is in what God can do to solve problems and sanctify people. Your hope doesn’t fade away. Therefore, you can remain steadfast during difficulty.  

Love endures all things:

You never give up. You can sustain under the sufferings that come because of the assaults of an enemy. No hardship causes you to stop loving. You have a godly resilience – an ability to outlast anything – not with passive resignation, but with triumphant fortitude.


Words and phrases for these descriptions are taken from the commentaries I Corinthians by Anthony C. Thiselton, The Letters to the Corinthians by William Barclay, The First Epistle to the Corinthians by C.K. Barrett, Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians by Charles Hodge, I Corinthians by H.A. Ironside, and Commentary on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians by John Calvin.