In our world, love has been so romanticized that we do not recognize the power of it in the biblical testimony. Such scriptures as Paul’s chapter on love has been secularized with the world’s understanding and is seen on greeting cards and even recited by individuals at weddings. Pauls love chapter to the Corinthians though is very similar to that of John’s letters on the love of God. There is no love like the love of God.
LOVE IS THE MOTIVE BEHIND SPIRITUAL GIFTS (I Corinthians 13:1-3)
Compassion for the souls of men is a quality of love that makes it entirely different. It is the motive that drives us to see people saved even when our efforts are rejected. It does not matter how many languages we “speak” (vs. 1) if we do not have love. It does not matter what gifts we have and to what degree for if we do not have love we are “nothing.” (vs. 2). It does not matter how much “goods” (vs. 3) we give to charities if we do not have love. We may feel that we are doing good and have love but the love of God is entirely different. It is a self-sacrificing and giving love that does not seek anything in return.
THE QUALITIES OF LOVE (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
Love coming from God through the believer is filled with great qualities. The first is that love is not prideful or seeks self-gain and interest. It is not “puffed up” (vs. 4). The Corinthian church was divided because of pride issues. Pride is a sign that God’s love is not in somone. It does not keep a record of wrongs against it and thinks “no evil” (vs. 5) toward another person.
Love in the believers also has a steadfast endurance about it. Love has to be tough and does not condone sin but endures towards “truth” (vs. 6). No one is worth the abandonment of truth and love would not seek to avoid the truth. In doing so, it bears long with hard individuals and endures through “all things” (vs. 7). We hold our love ones accountable to the truth because love compels us to desire their walk in the truth.
THE ENDURANCE OF LOVE (1 Corinthians 13:8-13)
Except for love all other gifts will “vanish away” (vs. 8). The Corinthians boasted in their spiritual gifts of tongues, knowledge, and prophecy. After the resurrection of our bodies love will continue while the other gifts lose their purpose and fade from out of view. The gifts spoken of in chapter 12 are only useful in the current world. Paul will focus on knowledge and prophesy and their fading away as prime examples.
This is because we can only know in “part” (vs. 9). How many times do we see that even in preaching and teaching, there comes points of confusion and misunderstanding? We are limited in these capacities. Yes, when the “perfect” (vs. 10) is come (heaven and bodies) we shall know in full and have no reason to prophesy.
In our understanding now compared to that which shall come to our thinking is that of a “child” (vs. 11). When we are perfected in eternity, we will put away our childish thinking. Ancient mirrors were made of metal and did not provide a clear reflection. At the end of time, our incomplete understanding will be rid of flawed thinking, and we will see clearly the things that God gave to us.
Other motivators that help us is faith and hope along with love. Faith will end once we move from the unseen things to the seen realities of heaven. Hope will end when what we hoped for is experienced. Love, on the other hand, will still exist. The love of God we have in us is not only for this world but the world to come. Love is the “greatest” (vs. 13).