In 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (AMP), Paul defines love.

"Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God's love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it (it pays no attention to a suffered wrong)."

Love Endures Long
When we talk about loving one another, the first thing we have to be aware of is that love is for the long haul. Love is not the forty-yard dash. Love is the marathon. The love of God endures no matter what comes along-regardless of the inconsistencies and imperfections in our lives. The love of God says, "You keep messing up and falling down, but I'm going to keep loving you." The love of God will always outlast our sinful nature.

God has unconditional love for us; however, the church is notorious for operating in conditional love. We are so quick to give up on people. We say we love them, but we generally operate by the love that says, "I'll love you as long as you keep pleasing me. As soon as you disappoint or anger me or fall in sin, I'm out of here." But God's love endures. It outlasts any problem that may come your way.

Now, it's true that there are instances in the Bible in which we're told not to even eat with a brother caught up in sin. (1 Cor. 5:11) In this case, the Scripture is referring to someone who has been shown his error through the Word of God and defiantly refuses to change. When someone shows an outright disregard for God's Word, he should be left alone to consider his thoughts and actions. If we don't leave him alone, he won't be able to see that he's wrong. In other words, it may jeopardize his chances of coming back to God.

But just because we cut off our fellowship with such people doesn't mean we cut off our love for them. It simply means that for now it is appropriate that we love them from a distance. Often, during this time of separation, God performs miraculous surgery. As soon as they see they're wrong and are willing to do right, we are to be the first to extend our arms and say, "I never stopped loving you. I've been waiting on you the whole time!"

There have been people in my life that I have determined to love supernaturally. They may act crazy, but I love them and keep loving them anyway. And after they are finished acting crazy, I'll still be there loving them.

That's the kind of love God wants us to have because He did the same for us before we came to know Him. God loved us in the midst of our foolishness. You may have been smoking marijuana, sleeping with multiple partners and partying all the time, but God said, I'm not going to allow your mess to outlast My love. That's why we can't leave Him. Every time we think about backsliding, we should recall how God loved us even when we didn't deserve His love.

The Bible says the goodness of God brings a man to repentance: "Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" (Rom. 2:4) In other words, the goodness of God causes a man to change.

How much endurance does your love have? Are you ready to divorce your spouse at the first sign of trouble? Are you ready to cut off the friend who said something to hurt your feelings? How much will your love outlast?

Source: Lord, Teach Me How To Love by Creflo Dollar
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers