Love

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

In this chapter, Paul took a break from his discussion of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12, 14) to discuss love. It was certainly not unrelated to the surrounding chapters, but it also stands apart. It is applicable beyond the use of spiritual gifts, the assembly, and the church. So in this lesson, we are going to examine this chapter and see what it teaches us about love.

If We Do Not Have Love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

  • Paul talked about the possibility of Christians acting without love – yet in explaining this, he indicated that a lack of love can be masked; hidden by outward actions
  • We might speak in tongues (1 Corinthians 13:1) – a miraculous spiritual gift (Acts 2:7-11); without love, this is just noise; we must speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) so that others understand (1 Corinthians 14:19)
  • We might possess the gift of prophecy, knowledge, and faith (1 Corinthians 13:2) – able to articulate and demonstrate our faith and understanding; without love, we are nothing; love must be our motive (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:1; 16:14)
  • We might sacrifice our possessions or even our own lives (1 Corinthians 13:3) – certainly may appear to be right; without love, it is of no profit; we must serve God from the heart (cf. Romans 6:17)
  • All of the good that we do, if it is done without love, is useless

Characteristics of Love (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

  • Patient (1 Corinthians 13:4) – longsuffering (1 Thessalonians 5:14-15)
  • Kind (1 Corinthians 13:4) – act benevolently (Strong’s); do good (Galatians 6:9-10); we are to love in deed (1 John 3:18)
  • Not jealous (1 Corinthians 13:4) – envy, covetousness; Paul did not seek what was theirs, but them (2 Corinthians 12:14)
  • Does not brag (1 Corinthians 13:4) – boast; we must boast only in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:31); again, without love, we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2)
  • Not arrogant (1 Corinthians 13:4) – think too highly of oneself; must have humility before God and others (Psalm 8:3-4; Philippians 2:3-4)
  • Does not act unbecomingly (1 Corinthians 13:5) – improper (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:36); inconsiderate/unfair to others
  • Does not seek its own (1 Corinthians 13:5) – selfishness; love puts God and others first (Matthew 22:35-40)
  • Not provoked (1 Corinthians 13:5) – provoked to anger; we must turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39)
  • Does not take into account a wrong suffered (1 Corinthians 13:5) – holding a grudge (Leviticus 19:18)
  • Does not rejoice in unrighteousness (1 Corinthians 13:6) – does not want to see sin committed by or against someone
  • Rejoices with the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6) – loves God’s word (Psalm 119:97); loves to see others faithful to it (3 John 4)
  • Bears all things (1 Corinthians 13:7) – “covers” sins of others (1 Peter 4:8); does not gossip about them (2 Timothy 3:3)
  • Believes all things (1 Corinthians 13:7) – ready to assume the best of others; does not assign evil motives
  • Hopes all things (1 Corinthians 13:7) – hopes the best of others when we can no longer assume the best
  • Endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:7) – willing to suffer wrong (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:7-8)

Love Never Fails (1 Corinthians 13:8-13)

  • True Bible love does not fail – it “endures forever” (1 Corinthians 13:7); more than a feeling; feelings change, but true Bible love is a conscious decision (cf. Titus 2:3-4)
  • Endures longer than miraculous spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 13:8-12) – this applies even now when we are past the time of miraculous spiritual gifts (Hebrews 13:2)
  • Endures longer than faith and hope (1 Corinthians 13:13) – looking forward to the time when we reach heaven; faith will become sight (2 Corinthians 5:7; 1 John 3:2); hope will be realized (1 Peter 1:13; Romans 8:24)
  • Love will endure – we will see Him as He is (1 John 3:2); He is love (1 John 4:8)

Conclusion

  • When Paul spoke to these brethren about love, he described a “more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31)
  • Not just a feeling, not just something we talk about, not just natural affection – Bible love (agape) is something we consciously do
  • We must follow this “more excellent way” – if we do not, no matter what else we do, we profit nothing

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