One of the most talked about sections of Scripture is found in the book of 1 Corinthians. Chapter 13, commonly called the “love chapter of the Bible”. In this small section of Scripture we have several basic principles concerning love being addressed:
- vs 1-3 – the absolute necessity of love (charity) in all aspects of Christian life and ministry
- vs 4-7- the evidences of Biblical love
- vs 8-12- the eternal nature of Biblical love compared to the ceasing of Divine, inspired revelation to man; the physical / spiritual maturing of an individual picturing the increasing revelation of God received by man until completion; the increasing understanding of God due to completed revelation
- vs 13a- the continuation of love, faith and hope
- vs 13b- the supremacy of love over faith and hope
We will divide our study of this section of Scripture into 3 basic parts. In today’s blog entry we will look at 1 Corinthians 13:1-7. In section two of our study we will be examining verses 8-10. And in our final part we will look at verses 11-13.
Let us prayerfully, begin our study of the compelling and important subject of love…
1Cor 13:1-13 (KJV)
1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal…13And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.
1 Corinthians 13:
Vs 1 – Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
If men were not motivated by love when they exercised the gift of tongues, they were simply making noise without gaining any spiritual benefit for themsleves or the listener.
(Note here, that angels are seen throughout the Bible as God’s “messengers” delivering His Word to those of God’s choosing. This is why in many verses, a human messenger sent by God is described by this same Greek word “angelos” (matt 11:10, Lk 7:24, 2 Cor 8:23 etc etc etc )
In EVERY case, angels speak human languages as they give God’s Words to man. Paul is saying whether he shared God’s word in a off-hand everyday way, or as part of an authoritative, divinely called ministry, without love, he is not actually pleasing the Lord.
The divinely given gift of tongues was the ability to speak a human tongue not learned by the speaker. It was intended to give the gospel message to foreigners who could not speak the same language as the speakers. Acts 2:1-13. The main purpose of the gift of tongues, like all other sign gifts, was to accredit the ministry of Christ, the apostles and the first churches as they took the gospel to the Gentiles.)
Vs 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 charity, I am nothing.
Paul, says that the display of miraculous feats, without love, are of no true spiritual value. The four miraculous feats that Paul talks of are feats involving inspiration, knowledge and faith.
(At the time of the writing of 1 Corinthians 13:, the revelation of God’s Word to mankind was not completed. God still had more to say to man. This is why the gift of prophecy, understanding, and knowledge were still in effect at the writing of this letter.
The gift of prophecy is simply the miraculous ability to receive a message from God and to be able to reveal it to man without error. The ability to understand all mysteries, involves a supernatural ability given by God to understand the spiritual truths that He revealed to man. The third gift is the ability to possess knowledge that had never been shown to man before.
All three of these gifts were absolutely necessary as God handed down His Word to mankind. They are three different aspects of God’s giving His Word to man via Divine inspiration) And now that the Word is completed there is no longer any need for these gifts.
Vs 3 – And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Paul states although he gave up his possessions to meet the needs of the poor, and if He was willing to sacrifice his very body and life for the cause of Christ, if he was not motivated by a love for Christ and others, all of these immense sacrifices were of no spiritual profit for him.
In verses 1-3, we come to a very important and overlooked principle of our service to our Lord. All areas of our service to Him, must be motivated form a heart of love for God and man. That is why love for God and others is described as the “first and great commandment” … Matt 22:37-39
Vs 4-7 – Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Here, we find the evidence of Biblical love in our life. These are the signs that we have a Biblical love in our hearts as we serve our Lord and others…
- Charity suffereth long, – patient
- [and] is kind; – make our self useful to others
- charity envieth not; – does not desire possessions of others
- charity vaunteth not itself, – does not brag about self
- is not puffed up, – to believe we are better than another
- Doth not behave itself unseemly, – does not make someone look bad in public
- seeketh not her own, – does not live selfishly
- is not easily provoked, - does not get agitated, irritated easily
- thinketh no evil; – does not plan nor desire evil
- Rejoiceth not in iniquity, – does not find joy in sin of others
- but rejoiceth in the truth; - finds joy in truth of God’s Word
- Beareth all things, - to be willing to “put up” with things in silence
- believeth all things, – exercises faith, trust in others
- hopeth all things, – thinks the best of others, sees the best in others
- endureth all things – willing to bear up under burdens for extended period of time
THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION
For those who are saved…
We have seen the importance of love in every aspect of our service to the Lord. We have also seen the marks of true love in our loves.
Do our lives exhibit the Lord’s love? Are our ministries motivated by a love for Christ and others?
If we can say “yes” to these questions, we can have joy knowing that our ministries, and lives, are pleasing to our Lord. If we must say “no” to these questions… we need to reevaluate our service, and lives, we are living for Christ. It is very possible we are simply going through the motions without ever actually having experienced God’s grace in our lives. This is the message of Matt 7:21-23.
Matt 7:21-23 (KJV)
21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
For those who have never trusted in Christ…
If you have never experienced the love of God in your lives, look to Him knowing He has made clear His love and concern for His people…
1John 4:7-12 (KJV)
7Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.8He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.9In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.10Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.11Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.12No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
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