1 Corinthians 13
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of 1 Corinthians 13.1-6.review
1 Corinthians 13. Love is in the air. The world will be focused on love if but for a brief moment, this week. Couples staring longingly at each other with hearts over their heads, boxes of chocolate, flowers, cards … and a date after the service, today, right?
What exactly is love? Is it what our world pictures, having a bad case of the heart flutters for someone? “How would you know if you’re in love?” Maybe if you get that excited feeling in your gut every time you think of that wonderful person? Hopefully our married couples do enjoy that.
But when the Bible commands that “husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church” we’re not talking about commanding that ….[in hale exhale]…feeling.
Lately, we’ve been studying 1 Corinthians 13. And we’ve learned that Christian love isn’t a feeling, it is an act of the human will. It is an action.
Christian love is an act of the human will empowered by the grace of God to do as described in verses 4-7 of this chapter.
Love is an action, not a feeling. It’s a sacrifice, it’s valiant, not selfish nor is it glamorous, like in the movies. It’s more about dying to self than it is about dying to be with that person. And to actually love, that is, to be patient, kind, and the rest demands that I first know the love of God.
The only way we can actually love others is to first receive the love of God. 1 John 4:19 “We love, because He first loved us.”
And out of his great love for us that we might be declared righteous in his sight, God raised Christ from the dead. He saw us in the turmoil of our sin, He saw us in our rebellion wanted to rescue us from the everlasting penalty we deserve.
And then, when someone is alarmed by their rebellion against God and trusts in Christ, who alone truly saves, everything changes! That person’s heart is set free from the chains of sin and selfishness.
The Holy Spirit can begin to work in that person’s heart to change them and persuade them and gently lead them along to actually self sacrificially and valiantly love like Christ loved. “We love because He first loved us.”
But until a person savingly trust in Christ by repenting and forsaking sin and clinging to Christ alone, until that time, every motive, no matter how loving it may appear, is actually tainted with some sort of selfish motive. That’s because the power of sin hasn’t been broken.
But there is power in the blood of Christ! Actual sin-cleansing power, actual freedom giving power!
By His grace, we can love as He has loved us…but we must know His love. The more we know His love, the more we meditate on his love and praise him for his love, the more we will be changed to love like he loves. So get to know the love of Christ in his word.
When we trust Christ, we can truly practice love as described in 1 Corinthians 13.
So what we’ll do this morning is recapture what we’ve learned from 1 Corinthians 13. ILL: You know, in preaching classes they tell you never to use the word ‘review.’ It’s too boring. So, we’ll do a recap. Capture it again. I suppose our retention is kind of like what used to happen with our goats.
We used to use hog panels for our goats and we’d move them around the field. It was a bit of a pain. And those hog panels are flimsy. And the goats would move them a bit and be able to climb right out of them. And in the summer, we’d be sitting outside, and lo and behold the goats would come up to the house to greet us.
Thankfully after we fenced the small field, we haven’t had any escaped convicts lately, which is quite nice actually.
But our recollection of passages can kind of be like those goats and we need to put those truths back in our minds.
So we’re going to try to do that this morning and so what we’re talking about this morning is what true love looks like. “What true love looks like.”
And this passage has been the most convicting study that I’ve done in recent memory. I have grown at least some and I need to continue to grow from this passage. It has rebuked me and has rather dogged me, chased after me. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can be a slow learner. I’m not as godly as I want to be, not as faithful as I should be. I need this passage.
Let’s read the first 3 verses…
1 Corinthians 13:1–3 1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
These verses help us understand why the apostle Paul put these verses here in his letter to the Corinthians. He is rebuking them because they have exalted their spiritual gifts and talents to the point that they are hurting others.
In verse one he’s saying that the greatest speakers, without love, are just a noisy nuisance.
In verse two, he’s saying that the wisest and most faith-filled people without love, are nothing.
And in verse three, he’s saying that the greatest givers without love get nothing.
Churches all too easily exalt giftedness above love. And that is shown in what we expect out of each other. Would we rather have blockbuster sermons and world-class musicians or simply people who love well? We choose the music that we do and we listen to the Bible teachers and preachers that we do, not because they love well, but because they speak well or they perform well, right?
We are geared to exalting giftedness above love. The movies, the radio, the shows we watch… We are a people consumed with exalting talent.
But God says all of those sermons, musical performances, and whatever can actually be nothing in His sight if there is not love.
So what Paul is trying to do here is to reorient our thinking so that we do not exalt giftedness but that we exalt love as what is necessary in the church.
And if the greatest gifts render a person pointless without love, we’d best pay careful attention to God has said here. I want my life to count forever! I want to be profitable, I want to be fruitful for His glory. If the best gifts without love is nothing, then mediocre and small gifts with love makes me very profitable for His glory!
Now, in verses 4-6 Paul gives 10 descriptions of love. What true love really looks like. There are more in verses 7-8, but verse 6 is as far as we’ve gotten in our study. And we’ll recapture these rather quickly, so hang on.
We’ll take the first two together. They form love’s primary responses., patience and kindness. And they are the primary responses because they are first and because love is repeated twice. “Love is patient, love is kind.” And we’ll see that they naturally fit together.
True love is patient and kind
You can think of patience and kindness as love’s two-sided coin.
Just like a coin has a heads and a tails, love has two main responses: patience and kindness.
Based on the original Greek language, you could think of the word patience here as referring to somebody who takes a long time to get angry.
Your computer crashes and you lose your work. You can’t find your keys or you stub your toe. Somebody is talking during the movie. The light turns green after 30 seconds and then the car in front of you doesn’t actually go. Someone condemns you to your face and gets angry with you or complains about you.
You are the butt of someone’s joke, they didn’t give you credit for what good thing you did. They misjudge you and accuse you of something you are not.
They disregard your opinion about a matter. They are complaining about you, they pooh-pooh your gifting from God and exalt their own.
These are all opportunities to suffer long with others, to be patient to forbear, not to avenge with the tongue or even the heart, but to be tolerant, not to break out in wrath.
Jesus showed great patience while He was on earth: After the resurrection, Thomas says “unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails and place my finger in the mark of the nails …AND… Place my hand into his side, I will never believe” … How those words could have hurt! After eight days of patience Jesus gladly accommodates his unbelief and gently invites Thomas to examine him, “See my hands and side!” And Thomas believes!
TRANS: Love doesn’t give you my anger. Love is patient. Instead, love gives you kindness. Love is kind, it does good to you.
My worth is not in my giftedness, but in my love, my kindness. If you call me a mediocre (or worse) pastor or preacher, I should be able to accept that. My gifts are what they are. I can’t change that. But if exhibit a lack love, I need to do some serious reflecting and repenting and growing.
Let’s say somebody really lays into you. Instead of berating them back, you could just be patient and remain silent. However, could you also show kindness to them? Love doesn’t just not hurt someone in return, but love also will show kindness when they are shown evil.
The answer to someone hurting you isn’t to get revenge, and the answer isn’t limited to not being bitter. But the answer to someone hurting you is to actively show kindness. You say, “But they don’t deserve kindness.” It’s not your place to take any sort of revenge, but to show kindness. “Love your enemies,” Jesus says. Do good to those who persecute you.
God loves his enemies.
He’s loved you.
Love one another even when it’s difficult.
TRANS: And with the rest of verse 4 down through verse 5 to not seeking its own, we’re looking at loves self denials. Love’s self denials…there are five self denails. These refer to our initiations, our actions. And Paul words it negatively with a ‘not’ … which further shows they are a rebuke.
When I take initiative or when I present myself a certain way… These are my actions towards others that do not take into account others’ actions toward me. I’m taking the initiative when it comes to jealousy, bragging, arrogance, shameful behaviour, and selfishness. The last three this morning will bring others into the mix.
First self denial is that true love is not jealous.
True love is not jealous
True love rejoices with others and doesn’t long for what they have.
Jealousy or envy…is an anger-filled desire for something someone else has.
Love is not jealous! And remember that the Corinthian’s are having great trouble in their church. There is bickering and fighting and the exaltation of giftedness. So you can imagine people being jealous over each others’ spiritual gifts and talents.
Jealousy can erupt between a husband and wife as well. If the marriage is on the rocks a little bit, one can begin to wonder if the other is looking at others.
True love is not jealous.
TRANS: And true love does not brag.
True love is does not brag
True love does not brag, but instead love boasts in Christ.
Bragging is when we are calling attention to ourselves to gain admiration or approval. Love denies the need to bring attention to itself to gain approval. In the church, one can easily brag about ones spiritual achievement.
I’m so sorry! Is my halo shinning in your eyes? Oh man, it always does that! I’m terribly sorry! Clearly, the person isn’t truly sorry.
Sometimes bragging can be hard to detect in ourselves. …but love doesn’t brag…
It boasts in Christ. We should recognize that without Christ we are nothing. Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing.” I have nothing and am nothing apart from him. My bragging will be in Him. He’s paid it all!
TRANS: And of course bragging is result of arrogance. True love is not arrogant.
True love is not arrogant
When we began that message I listed 24 ways in which I can be arrogant. When I wrote that sentence down yesterday, I could feel my heart actually becoming proud that I could list so many ways! Maybe that ought to be the 25th one… #25, I get arrogant when I can list 24 ways that I’m proud! Pride isn’t exactly rational.
And so we know that true love is not arrogant, but love humbles.
To be arrogant in Greek is to be puffed up. We can inflate ourselves like a puffer fish. A puffer fish will inflate themselves out of protection. I can puff up my heart when I think how spiritual I must sound to others or how talented I am, when I think that others must think so highly of me and the like.
We’re proud when we complain, and we’re not thankful, when we look down on others, and think about how important they must think I am. A proud person will be consumed with what others are thinking about them, good or bad. Proud people are not teachable, they are superior in knowledge.
Humble people will be thankful for their giftedness or lack of giftedness and will not exaggerate how great or how bad it really is.
You’ll find humble people listening to others, being slow to speak. You’ll find them asking lots of questions and not talking about themselves. A humble person will talk of others kindly and not running them into the ground.
True love does not act unbecomingly, verse 5.
True love does not act shamefully, but love acts honourably. We saw a number of things when we looked up that word unbecomingly or shamefully. We saw that love behaves honorably toward members of the opposite gender. The unmarried are not to act as though they are married. Second, we also saw that we’re to be modest in our behaviour and in our dress as men and women. Third, love puts others first.
TRANS: And that leads to the last of the self denials, that true love does not seeks its own.
True love does not seek its own
“Love does not seek its own interests, but love sacrificially serves others.” True love is not selfish.
… To mix it up with Philippians, “[Love does] not merely look out for its own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
We can all too easily seek out our own interests … to the neglect of others’ interests.
ILL: All too often, our view of love is that it’s something I use for my own pleasure. Cupid comes to mind, at this time of year. In Greek mythology Cupid is pictured as having a bow and arrow. And the one who is struck with his arrow longingly desires to be with his love interest.
That kind of love is a consuming love. It is a kind of love that uses someone else for their own pleasure.
And we can’t be that way with people, our time, or our things. We’ve been struck with Cupid when we’re acting selfishly for our own pleasure to the neglect of others.
ARG: That’s why Jesus teaching in Matt 5:38-42 is so contrary to my nature… We are supposed to turn the other cheek, those who sue us for some, give them even more. When the government has unreasonable demands, go the extra mile. Whoever asks from you, loan. Love your neighbor and love your enemy.
TRANS: Love’s two main responses are the first two in verse four, love is patient love is kind. Love tolerates people for a long time, not giving them anger… But that’s not all, love is actively kind and seeks to do good.
And then we have a series of descriptions that begin with “not.” From ‘not jealous‘ to the description in verse 5 that love ‘does not seek its own‘ … These refer to our initiations, our actions.
When I take initiative or the way that I present myself… These are my actions towards others that don’t take into account others’ actions toward me. If I have Christian love in my heart, I will not be jealous, I will not brag, I will not be arrogant, I will not act shamefully but honourably, and I will not seek my own interests, but will look out for others primarily.
TRANS: But what happens when you bring other people into the mix and someone else takes an action first? That’s why you have the last three … that love is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. Each of these have to do with my response to others. So…love is not provoked…
True love is not provoked by others
Love is not angered, but love has compassion and is at peace with others from the heart. Love doesn’t get provoked.
Love does not go off on somebody. You couldn’t do certain things to a loving person so that they fly off the handle. Because of what somebody else does, a loving person will not be easily triggered or exasperated. You can’t rub the wrong way a loving person. There is nothing there to rub. You can’t drive them up the wall or get on their nerves or ruffle their feathers. They really don’t have any pet peeves. You can’t get under their skin; they are not annoyed or bugged, or irritated or bothered or disturbed… You can’t push their buttons … why? Because they have no buttons to push!
But our culture teaches us that we have a right to be annoyed or offended. Our world teaches us to be easily offended. We are a people who are intolerant to insults…even unintentional insults, and we think we’re righteous to let the offense be known to others or to the proper authorities.
And so people today have to walk on eggshells to make sure they don’t accidentally offend someone, since everyone believes he has a right to be offended these days.
By God’s grace, I won’t be offended even if you mock me and spit on me, as they did Christ.
True love does not take into account a wrong suffered
True love refuses to account for personal wrongs, but forgives. It doesn’t exact revenge, but actively and diligently dismisses the guilt of others.
When I trust Christ, I’m just beginning to recognize how God has forgiven me of all of my sin.
Ephesians 4:32 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
The more I understand how God has forgiven me, the more I’ll be able to graciously forgive others, of even big sins.
If I have small love and a small understanding of what God has done for me, if you look at me the wrong way, I’ll take it into account…if you say something I don’t like, I’ll take it into account and hold it against you.
But if I have a great love, I could endure you crucifying me, and simply ask God to forgive you. I don’t even have to bring it up, unless of course, it is for your or others’ good.
True love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth
The idea here is that love does not take pleasure in a report of someone’s sin or mistake, but when the truth prevails.
As…Proverbs 24:17 says 17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;
We do not rejoice in someone else’s actual sin so as to be tempted by it, to look down on them for it, or to think ourselves more righteous than they.
But love also does not delight in someone else’s reported sin or mistake. Love will not unjustly spread a report of someone else’s sin without proof. Love will not believe a report of somebody else’s sin without proof.
True love will rejoice with the truth.
Proverbs 18:17 The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him.” That’s a very important verse for not believing your first impressions of situations. Our gut reactions aren’t always right! It seems right, until you scrutinize it. And you should desire to do so!
Proverbs 16:27 A worthless man digs up evil, while his words are like scorching fire.
Our sin natures are just waiting for someone we don’t like to mess up so that we can pounce on them! No, love rejoices with the truth. Love won’t find ways to be critical like that, but will believe what is actually true, and then practice the rest of these qualities of love!
Love will seek out what is true so that it doesn’t have to believe something negative about someone if it doesn’t have to. True love will rejoice with the truth, seeking it out.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of 1 Corinthians 13.1-6.review
I need every one of those qualities in my life. Without these things, my life will be pointless.
Now, how do get this into my life? How can I truly love? You need to be diligent to lay hold of Christ, in salvation, yes, but also in your spiritual growth.
Lately, I’ve been praying over…2 Timothy 2:24–25 24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,
And I am asking again that the Lord will work that verse into my heart.
So we’re diligent to seek the Lord. If you don’t care, it’s not going to happen.
And to grow in our love, we must secondly recognize God’s love for us. Take for example
Romans 8:35 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
No! Nothing will! Christ will love me and will keep on loving me. I am secure in His love. I recognize this love…but I also need to
Third, meditate on it. Praise God for His love, look deep into the face of Christ and see the love that He has for you. Ponder the multitude of verses on His love.
And as I behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, I’ll be transformed “into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
And ask Him for it, again, seek the Lord about it. We’re active.
God’s love for us empowers our love for Him. “We love, because He first loved us.”
75 love of God.