In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul writes to the church in Corinth. In this passage of Scripture, he interrupts his explanation of the church as one body with many parts and the different spiritual gifts to a message that emphasizes the importance of love. Paul sent the Corinthians this letter while he was on his third missionary journey in Ephesus, a province of Asia.
The teachers of religious law once asked Jesus the question, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this, ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31 NLT) Paul mentions love as the first Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. He also states at the end of 1 Corinthians 13 about the importance of abiding in love.
Love is the most important virtue in Christian character. Paul explains that if he could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, he would only be like a clanging symbol, literally only making noise. He further states that if he had the gift of prophecy or possessed all knowledge, had the faith to move mountains, sacrificed his body or gave all that he had, he would gain nothing if he didn’t love others. Our entire Christian walk is based on love. The Bible plainly tells us that God is love and if we have not love, we have not God in us.
God gave us the greatest gift of all time, which was His only Son, Jesus Christ because of His true love for us. Jesus left the splendors of Heaven and was made flesh so that He could give His life for a sacrifice for our sin because of His true love for us. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE beyond measure! They have loved us from the beginning of time and will continue throughout all of eternity. God made us part of His family and supplies our every need. God’s love is unconditional, which is called agape love. There are no set standards to be met before we can receive God’s love. His love isn’t based upon our merit, works, status, fruits, gifts, etc. No matter if we are male, female, sinner, saint, happy, sad, mad, old, young, rich, poor, educated, God loves us the same. God doesn’t care about the color of my skin or where I live, He loves me for me. God shows no partiality or favoritism. He has no prejudice and shows no bias. Nothing will keep God from loving us. Can we truly say we deserve love without limits that go beyond all human comprehension? Probably not, but I am sure glad that God loves me that much regardless of understanding.
Christ’s unselfish sacrifice and His forgiving, compassionate, non-prejudice behaviors are the greatest example of what true Christ-like love is all about. Christ taught us about love and leads by example. Christ says in John 15:12, This is my commandment. That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Paul later teaches us through his many letters the importance of loving others. We know that God requires us to love one another. He expects us as Christians to walk in love and show love one to another. He tells us to love our enemies and our neighbors. He wants us to love others as we love ourselves. The characteristics of love are given throughout the Word of God and we are to have and operate in these. We are to live by the examples given to us in the Bible and have these attributes of love manifested in our lives and daily activities. Our love should continue to grow as we mature in Christ.
The focus in today’s Bible study will be the characteristics of love as listed in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. This portion of Scripture gives us great understanding of what love really is about.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; loves does not parade itself, is not puffed up; (1 Corinthians 13:4) NKJV
•Love suffers long: love is patient, steadfast, understanding, waits when necessary, and allows time for learning and maturing.
•Love is kind: love is good, polite, charitable, considerate, gentle, friendly, warm-hearted, and thoughtful.
•Does not envy: love is thankful, not jealous, doesn’t despise growth of others, delights in others successes and prosperity, isn’t suspicious, remains loyal, and is trusting.
•Does not parade itself: love is not boastful, it is humble and shows humility, doesn’t brag, gives God the glory in all things, and is not conceited.
•Is not puffed up: love is forgiving, it is not proud, not self-centered, and doesn’t pout.
Does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; (1 Corinthians 13:5) NKJV
•Does not behave rudely: love is not rude, it is respectful, courteous, doesn’t anger easily, and uses good manners.
•Does not seek its own: love is giving, unselfish, not demanding nor does it anger when not receiving its own way.
•Is not provoked: love is peaceful, has self-control, not irritable, cranky, edgy, hateful, or temperamental.
•Thinks no evil: love keeps no record of wrong, doesn’t remind of sins, mistakes, or bad choices, it is forgiving, and also thinks on that which is good and holy.
Does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; (1 Corinthians 13:6) NKJV
•Love wants justice, is fair, has good morals, respects rules and laws, wants to walk in truth, loves that which is good/righteous and hates evil/sin.
Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1Corinthians 13:7) NKJV
•Bears all things: love is strong, supportive, persistent, it upholds, and doesn’t complain.
•Believes all things: love never loses faith, it is positive, confident, and keeps the vision alive.
•Hopes all things: love encourages, and understands the potential and possibility.
•Endures all things: love doesn’t give up, it overcomes, is victorious, courageous, doesn’t fail, stands firm, remains an example of faith, and is a favorable witness.
Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 13 that love never fails. He reminds us that we once were children and spoke as children, and understood as children, but when we grew up that we should put away childish things/behaviors. Spiritual maturity is manifested in and through love. We are known by the fruits we bear, our character, and how we show our love for God and others. We need to constantly pursue love and aspire to walk in the virtues of love.
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