1 Corinthians 13:1-8
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 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.
Paul doesn’t just paint a positive picture of love and what we need to put on but he is also very clear about what:
- Practices to Put off:
1. Does not envy – Paul makes it clear that selfish jealousy is at odds with the Lord’s love. True love is not jealous of what others have or have become. The Greek word that is translated “envy” here means “to burn with zeal.” It’s the picture of being heated to the point that we boil over with envy, hatred, or anger. In the context of 1 Corinthians 13, we see that love does not focus on personal desires. It is not eager to increase possessions, the goal is not getting, its giving glory to God. Real love focuses on people not possessions. It’s what Jesus modeled in His ministry and why he spent so much time loving the poor. God’s love is selfless, not selfish, but in contrast to Christ’s command the Corinthian believers were ranking some spiritual gifts as more important than others and envying those who had the those gifts. So, in chapter 12 Paul points out that the different gifts are meant to serve one another and build up the church. True love calls us to see God’s gifts through the lens of serving others not trying to serve self. While love celebrates when others are blessed envy complains. Where love brings life, envy brings death and decay. As Proverbs 14:30 states “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Love does not seek to benefit itself and it is content with what it has.
2. Does not parade itself – The Greek word translated here as boast means to brag and point to self. The reason that love does not boast is because love focuses on the one being loved, not on oneself. A braggart is full of themselves and is so busy magnifying themselves that they don’t have time to minister to others. But love turns the perspective outward focusing on the needs of others, without thought of repayment or recognition. Paul had many opportunities to boast, but instead he sacrificially served others. When it came to the Corinthian Christians he served them without a salary, and instead of boasting about his sacrifice, he wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:16, “If I preach the gospel that gives me no ground for boasting.” Are you going to put your energy into loving others or trying to look good? Because you can’t focus on self and serve at the same time.
3. Is not puffed up with Pride – Real love is not swelled up with a sense of self-importance and elated with a vain conceit of itself. Jesus Christ is the perfect example of selfless love. In Philippians 2:6-8 it says, “though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” Jesus did not focus on Himself. Instead, He became a servant and in humility died to save us.
4. Does not behave rudely – This is behaving in an ugly, indecent, unseemly or unbecoming manner. Christian love involves choosing appropriate actions and responses that bless others instead of belittling them. Sadly rudeness has become common place in our current culture. Public behavior and words that were unthinkable a generation ago are now commonplace. It’s what essayist Merrill Markoe in the Wall Street Journalcalls a “renaissance of rudeness.” Manners are not just rules they reveal the heart. But as our society has made it more and more about self, manners have been replaced with me. Rudeness is rooted in selfishness, but love is concerned for the well-being of others.
5. Does not seek its own – God’s love does not seek its own happiness at the expense and injury of others. The corrective to self-seeking is God-seeking. The remedy for selfishness is love. Jesus said in Mark 12:30-31, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second commandment is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Loving God and others is the true mark of a believer, not a love for self. As 1 Corinthians 10:24 says, “Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.”
6. Is not provoked – Love does not fly into a rage, but keeps the temper under control. Being hot headed usually involves making snap judgments, seeking instant vindication, and refusing to grant second chances. However, true love refuses to jump to conclusions, take revenge, or hastily judge anyone. The fact that love is “not easily angered” reflects God’s patient love for the world described in 2 Peter 3:9, “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
7. Thinks no evil – Love chooses to put the best possible construction on the motives and the conduct of others. Love is not disposed to finding fault, or to impute improper motives to others. Love is not a record keeper of wrongs but rather a keeper of rights.
8. Does not rejoice in iniquity – Love does not rejoice over the “vices” of other people; it does not take delight when they are guilty and fall into sin. Some of us secretly relish the thought of those who have wronged us coming to harmed. But love does not seek revenge it seeks what is right. Not only does Paul reveal the power, priority and picture of love but lastly he reminds us of the:
4. Perseverance of Love – Vs 7-8
Love lasts, Paul reminds us that love never fails. There are a lot of things in this life that falter and fail but not love because love lives on. Even after this body dies and decays the legacy of love that we leave will live on in the people we have loved and they will pass it on to those that they touch. What about you, what are you going to leave when this life is over? Will it be a life of love? Love is intentional it looks for those who need loved and graciously gives God’s love. So, what picture are you painting with the way you are living your life, is it a picture of service or selfishness? Are you living to love self or loving to serve others?