For God so loved the world, HE gave.
When we truly love someone, their needs become the priority. God loved us so much that HE wrapped HIMSELF in flesh, came as a babe, took the life-journey to Calvary, and gave it up for us. Even on the Cross, as HIS flesh cried out that HE felt forsaken, HE gave it all up for a plan of complete love.
Do we really grasp I Corinthians 13?
V. 1 – “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” It matters not that we speak in other tongues, if we don’t place others ahead of our own selves. The Corinthian church placed great value on speaking in tongues, but Paul said without love, we are basically just an irritant.
V. 2 – “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.” We can have great faith and be the one others turn to for prayer when they are in desperate need, or we can operate in the gifts, but it all loses GODly value when we don’t put others needs first. “I am nothing.”
V. 3 – “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing.” We can sell everything we own and give the money to the poor, and giving of what we have is certainly important, but what is our motivation? We can become a martyr for the gospel, but still we accomplish “nothing” in the Kingdom without loving one another.
What does this love look like that we are to be showing, giving to others?
V. 4 – “Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love brags not itself, is not puffed up,” Love puts up with a lot. Love is kind, gentle, encouraging. Love is not jealous! (of anything). Love is not prideful, never says, “Look at me”. If we do what we do for the accolades and applause, our motives are not those promoted by love. Who do we spend most of our time talking, thinking about? “ME”, “MYSELF” and “I”, or someone else, especially Jesus? We speak louder through our actions than with our mouths.
V. 5 – “Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil;” When we act or behave out of love, we give no one a reason to question our motives. They are pure and undefiled. Love gives credit and does not seek credit for it’s actions. Love is not temperamental and always thinks the best of others. Love does not hurt others in effort to make our “place” in the world. And love never keeps track of our own hurts or others’ wrong-doing.
V. 6 – “Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;” Love proves that which is true and seeks that which is GODly. Love is not content with strife. Love is peace. Love desires truth. Searches for truth. It never rejoices in brothers and sisters who may have fallen into sin. That is nothing short of a malignancy that needs to be removed. Love encourages complete restoration, the touchstone of our faith.
V. 7 – “Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Love doesn’t seek an angle. Love does not distort. Love covers the faults of others. Love will outlast any force.
This love is eternal and rests in first place.
V. 8 “Love never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.” Love doesn’t take a break. Love doesn’t stop – no matter what. These gifts were of imminent importance in the church. Yet, he says, everything else can cease. They lose value without love.
V. 9 – “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.” Love is not about being a religious know-it-all. Love understands we have not yet been perfected.
V. 10 – “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” If we make our lives about loving one another the way HE has loved us, some day perfection shall be attained, when we all get to Heaven.
V. 11- “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Children do not understand the vastness of the concept of love. Children are born into sin and have an innate selfishness. They must be taught and lead and shown love. If we cannot even put our child’s needs ahead of our own, what have we gained in this life God has given us?
V. 12-“ For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” We cannot possibly grasp or fathom the depth of HIS love for us in our humanity with our failures and our shortcomings. Oh, but someday, when we are face to face with our Creator, we will understand. We will see HIS love and understand in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, why is was so important to share this love with others.
V. 13 -“And now stays faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” We need faith in our lives because we cannot serve HIM without it. It is impossible to please God without faith. We need hope because HE is our hope even to the ends of the earth. But the greatest of these, Love, is the most important. Why? It is the reason our Creator has done everything HE has done throughout eternity. It is HIS motivation and HE asks that it be ours, too.
This poem written by Paul is somewhat in juxtaposition of his rugged character. There is a precious tenderness in these scriptures. We get the sense that he is inspired by the Holy Spirit to speak these words and in doing so, we see his heart. If you read the preceding chapters and the chapters after, it seems almost out of context with everything else going on.
In the first three verses, Paul emphasizes the absolute need for love. We need to love one another, no matter what. All else should fade to the background, pale in comparison to the love we all need in our lives.
In verses 4-7, he speaks of the characteristics of love, how it behaves, how we know love when we see and experience love. The rest of the scriptures directly speak to love being eternal and supreme. Love is forever, without end. It cannot be turned on and off.
Some Biblical translations use the word charity in place of love and the word “charity” here can easily be confused with giving. We think of charity in connection with giving physical items to others. Love in this chapter is all about the heart. The giving of one’s self to others. Offering forgiveness, restoration, space, kindness, gentleness. Love is defined as “God”. God is love. (I John 4:8) Love is the very nature of God! For God so loved, HE gave! Everything! How can we do any less?
These scriptures do not preclude one from taking some time for themselves to refresh and have time alone with God. These are words of encouragement to treat others with love and respect, always. Sweet and bitter cannot come from the same source. We shouldn’t be hateful to one another, even those who disagree with us. Jesus showed love and mercy to all, followers and sinners. We either love one another all the time, or maybe we should strongly consider going back for a time of refreshment.
Love – will always put a cement block around the feet of our unGODly priorities and sink them.
Love – will always lift others and their needs to the top of our list.
We are first on HIS priority list. Can we put HIM first, others second, and ourselves last?
“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.” I John 4:16