THE BLOG
06/03/2014 03:46 pm ET Updated Aug 03, 2014

15 Ways to Know You Love Someone

Love is the most misunderstood and misapplied word on earth. We romanticize it, commercialize it, sexualize it, sensationalize it, and trivialize it. But we don't actualize it very well. When we fall in love, we say we've found someone to make us happy; but that notion is fundamentally flawed. Love is finding someone whom we can make happy. Love desires the happiness and well-being of others. At least, that's the way it's described in the Bible, especially in the Love Chapter of Scripture -- 1 Corinthians 13. This is a passage frequently read at weddings and seldom practiced in marriages or in any other relationships. Yet the thirteen verses of this chapter, taken seriously, would be a pick-me-up to all our relationships.

The first part of the chapter stresses the priority of love; the last third celebrates the permanence of love. At the heart of the passage, in verses 4-8, is the Bible's timeless treatise on the personality of love.

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 in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

That's God's definition of love, the most perfect description ever composed; and it's essentially a checklist of fifteen items. It's very practical. We can gauge the quality of any relationship by converting this list into a little quiz to assess the levels of our love. It's admittedly subjective, but, then, we're talking about love.

Think of a particular relationship (or of your attitudes toward people in general) and quantify each item below on a scale from one to ten. One is never, and ten is always. I'll list each quality as it's stated in the Bible, add a brief explanation, and we can each rank ourselves. Don't think long about each item. Just use the figure that instinctively comes to mind.

• I am patient: I seldom get irritated with people.
0 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10

• I am kind: I go out of my way to do favors without fanfare.
0 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10

• I am not envious: I'm never not when others are more successful than I.
0 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10

• I am not boastful: Unless asked, I seldom center my conversations on my projects, my problems, my family, or myself.
0 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10

• I am not proud: I enjoy centering my conversations on the interests of those with whom I'm speaking.
0 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10

• I am not dishonoring to others: I bend over backwards to be gentle, gracious, non-offensive and respectful.
0 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10

• I am not self-seeking: One of my main goals in life is helping others succeed
0 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10

• I am not easily angered: I'm known for my even temper.
0 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10

• I keep no record of wrongs: I don't stay angry with others for long and I never allow bitter feelings to linger.
0 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10

• I do not delight in evil: I never join my peers in activities that violate my conscience.
0 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10

• I rejoice in the truth: I have a knack for being kind even when I'm being honest.
0 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10

• I always protect: I'm quicker to defend someone else than to defend myself.
0 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10

• I always trust: I assume the best about people until proven wrong.
0 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10

• I always hope: I spread optimism like sunshine to those around me.
0 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10

• I always persevere: I don't easily give up on people.
0 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10

Now tally your score. If you got a flat zero, you're in the same league as the devil. If you got 150, you and Jesus Christ are in a class by yourself. Most of us are somewhere in between; but the important thing is to score higher next time.

If you want to improve your averages, I'd suggest immersing yourself in 1 Corinthians 13. That's what Florence Allshorn of Sheffield, England did. In 1920, she sailed out as a missionary educator to Uganda. This was very dangerous assignment, but Florence found her greatest challenge was her coworkers, especially her primary superior, a rude and unpleasant woman. One day Florence broke down under the strain and wept over her inability to love the woman. In desperation, she made a decision to read 1 Corinthians 13 every day for a solid year and to intentionally put its verses into practice. The project changed her heart and attitudes, and it transformed her interactions and relationships. She later wrote, "I believe we have just got to be living 1 Corinthians 13. I am certain of it, I feel nothing else matters in comparison at all, organizations, gifts of speech--nothing."

It's not enough to fall in love; we have to immerse ourselves in the love chapter every day and live it out. In an angry world the people who matter are the ones who know and grow in the love of Jesus Christ.