“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
How well would you say you practice showing love to others? It is a natural tendency for us to think we do a good job in expressing our love to those around us. However, as I read the opening verses above, I am made aware that it is a continual challenge for me to love others the way I should.
The Christians in the church at Corinth had to be reminded of the challenge of love. They had struggled with divisions among themselves (1 Corinthians 1:10-13). They had also begun to argue among themselves as to which miraculous spiritual gifts, which many of them had (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:4-7; 12:7-11), was the greatest. Paul had to remind them that whether they had a spiritual gift like speaking in tongues, the ability to prophesy, great faith that could move mountains, or if they were willing to sacrifice their goods or even their body in service to God, but lacked love, it would profit them nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). These miraculous gifts would soon come to an end when the full revelation of God (i.e. the New Testament Scriptures) were completed or perfected, but love would never go away (1 Corinthians 13:8-13). Therefore, they should not spend their time on fighting about which miraculous gift was the greatest, but their efforts should be spent on developing the kind of love God wanted them to have for each other.
Do we need to be reminded about the challenge of love? I don’t know about you, but I sure do. Like the church at Corinth I often start to focus on things that are not very important and forget the things that are extremely important such as developing the type of love God wants me to show others.
Paul reminds us of things which love does not do: Love does not envy, parade itself, be puffed up, behave rudely, seek its own, be provoked, think evil, or rejoice in iniquity (1 Corinthians 13:4-6). As I examine myself as to whether I am in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5), do I find myself, at times, being arrogant, rude, self-centered, easily angered, having evil thoughts, or laughing at evil jokes?
Moreover, the apostle reminds us of what loves does: Love suffers long, is kind, and rejoices in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:4-6). Am I always long suffering and kind? With regard to rejoicing in the truth do I find myself avoiding certain passages from the Bible or reacting negatively towards certain sermon topics because they make me uncomfortable or I am afraid of how they may offend others?
Finally, Paul tells us the extent to which love acts: Love bears, believes, hopes, and endures ALL THINGS (1 Corinthians 13:7). Love knows no boundaries. Love doesn’t stop loving because it has reached its limit with somebody. No matter what a person has done, I still must treat them with love because love bears, believes, hopes and endures all things.
I want to learn to love as Jesus loved (John 13:34-35). This wonderful passage in 1 Corinthians 13 reminds me that I still have room to grow in the love I show to others. God doesn’t want me to focus on my weakness and failures in the way I practice loving others. He wants me to remember He can strengthen me to grow in my love for others (Philippians 4:13). Today, I rejoice that God is love and I pray that God will help me to continue to grow in this grace of love!
“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).