1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV) 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
This verse is one of the most recited verses at weddings and why shouldn’t it be; Paul really breaks down for us what love looks like. All newlyweds, and us not so newlyweds, should lean upon these verses as we encounter the daily struggles of married life. Still, these verses were not intended to be an instructional guide for how to show love to your spouse but rather how we as Christians should be with others, especially with our brothers and sisters in the church.
Paul was dealing with a lot of issues in the church at Corinth. These issues included but not limited to sexual immorality (to include incest), abuses of the Lord’s Supper, jockeying for power in the church, misuses and over emphasizing spiritual gifts, just to name a few. Still one of the biggest problems was how in all this the church members were treating each other. Throughout Paul’s letter is addressing the issue of the lack of compassion shown for each other by those in the church (more like churches; for Corinth seemed to have a network of house churches) but comes to his fullest argument against the Corinthians in his explanation of love. Let’s take a moment and look at Paul’s call for love when responding to others.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV) 4 Love is patient, love is kind… We live in a fast-paced society, our daily schedules jammed pack with work, kids’ school activities, errands to run and much more. This, of course, makes us edgy, overstressed and overwhelmed. No wonder why this part of love is so hard to do. We don’t have time or the mindset to be kind and/or patient. Yet it is in our kindness that we show Christ and in our patience that we show those around us their importance and value. If we want to lead people to Christ today, I think showing these two aspects of love will show others something different in us and open the door for us to build a relationship of mutual respect that will lead to us having the ability to share who Christ is to others.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV). This section of the passage deals with putting ourselves over others. Love is about the other person, not what I can get from them (manipulation). When Christ came and died for us, He wasn’t thinking about himself. Jesus knew our need and put it first. To be Christ like, we must put others and their needs first so that we show the love that was given to us to those who need it.
It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 At the heart of love is forgiveness. God is a forgiving God. From the very start when Adam and Eve fell in the garden God has been reaching out with his grace to restore us and our relationship. Anger, resentment and unforgiveness is toxic for the soul. They keep us lock down in misery whereas forgiveness out of love frees us and allows for joy to enter in our lives. If you are holding on to a grudge right now, let go, forgive and move on in the love of your Lord.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. There is nothing evil about authentic love. When love is authentic, it does not try to hide or deceive. Love when authentic will support, will believe and will keep those who are in it from the ways of the flesh. If we truly love, it will build up those around us and seek to do nothing that harms others.
Finally, Paul tells us that love never fails. In church we tend to forget or ignore this fact. Yes, love should be accompanied by truth (no one would ever know about sin and it’s effect in their lives if not told the truth) yet with no love, our truth looks more like us being judgmental versus caring. Paul wants the church to understand that no spiritual gift, no position in the church, nothing in the church is more important than love. Love never fails and it won’t fail us if we act out of love with everyone we meet. Pastor Mart.