This love month, heart-shaped crafts and sweets have started popping out here and there. But are these really enough to express our affection to others?

Love seemed to have poured out early this February for all KMBI Head Office staff with a devotion from Rev. Eduardo “Jun” Cunanan, Jr., a pastor from the Word of Hope Christian Church. He dissects the characteristics of love as outlined by the apostle Paul in the book of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV) which says,

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.”

In his exhortation Rev. Cunanan revealed that love is not a feeling in itself. It is an umbrella term that encompasses different emotions and feelings. It is something that we put into action every single day. He stated three ways to practice the lifestyle of showing love:

1. Loving unconditionally

Agape or unconditional love is the sort of love that God used to give us the Great Commandment. If we love, there must be no condition. You accept the person regardless of who they are and where they are in life. We should receive others as Jesus received us, for He accepted us without any conditions. Similarly, we need to be more accepting towards others even at their worst. Learning to accept is like a “character sandpaper” – the more we are open to loving others no matter how incompatible they are with our values, the more it refines our character.

2. Honoring others

It means acknowledging that you need the strength of others to fill your shortcomings. It is knowing that there are people better than you in certain aspects, and that you cannot do things just by yourself. Simply asking for help on a difficult task is already a sign of giving honor to others.

In like manner, honoring others means serving them out of joy – rather than obligation – through lending your skills and abilities when they need it most. God gave us different strengths and weaknesses so we can learn to rely on the help of others, and thus strengthening the bonds we have for our brothers and sisters under Christ.

3. Forgiving freely

Forgiveness is a gift from God. Without it, we would not be redeemed from sin. If you pass on that gift to others, you are freeing yourself from the bitterness caused by people who had done you wrong in the past. Most of us seem to suppress our ability to forgive especially when we are clouded by hurt and other negative emotions. As followers of Christ, forgiving somebody is synonymous to forgetting what they did. If we can forgive but not forget, then it will be difficult for us to fully move on.

To summarize, love is a habit and a choice that defines us as Christians. As the Lord said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35 ESV) Our love for God becomes evident in the love we show to our neighbors.