Tongues, prophesy, knowledge, absolute faith, philanthropy, martyrdom without God’s love in Christ results in nothing—absolute zero.
Go back and read again the greatest essay ever written on love. First Corinthians 13 always reminds me of the highest priority in the Christian’s life. “But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (v. 13).
Why is this chapter so important for the growing Christian? It is an awesome portrait of Jesus Christ. Read through this chapter again substituting the name Jesus Christ in place of the word “love” or “charity.” It is marvelous portrait of Christ who models for us perfect love.
Love is patient (v. 4a).
Love is enduring. It extends its grace even in the most heated moments in life. When our nerves are frayed it doesn’t fly off the handle. It is not easily frustrated and short-tempered. God’s love in us sees beyond the circumstances and considers all persons involved. Christ was extremely patient with His disciples and those who were slow spiritual learners (Lk. 24:35). He is still patient and not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). Are we as patient with those who are slow to believe in Him? Mature Christian love is consistently slow to lose patience. It takes a long time before fuming and breaking into flames.
Love is kind (v. 4b).
Love looks for ways to be helpful and demonstrates gracious kindness to others. It looks for the best in others, and overcomes selfish attitudes and behaviors. When we are kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving of each other we are being just like God in Christ who has forgiven us (Eph. 4:32; 2 Tim. 2:24; Gal. 6:1).
Love is content (v. 4c).
Love is never envious and does not boil over with jealousy. Love demonstrates an attitude of contentment with what God has provided for the individual. It overcomes envy and jealousy (1 Cor. 10:23-24; 2 Cor. 12:19-21).
Love is accepting of others (v. 4d).
Love is neither boastful, arrogant, conceited, nor does is it seeking vainglory. It is not haughty and is not anxious to impress. Love is an accepting attitude of other individuals, gifts, abilities, talents, and even their weaknesses. It is not arrogant and does not brag. It does not puff itself up with inflated pride (1 Cor. 4:6; 8:1; Rom. 14:19; 15:1-2; Col. 3:8-10).
Love is tactful (v. 5a).
It “does not act unbecomingly,” indecently or in a shameful manner. It does not act with rudeness, but chooses the right word and expresses it in the right way at the right time. It does not scheme and play “one up man ship.” It does not develop a sharp critical attitude and act unbecoming toward others who do not measure up to your standards (Eph. 4:29-32). It would do nothing that would cause one to blush.
Love is unselfish (v. 5b).
God’s love is not selfish and does not lookout for number one (Eph. 4:17-20). It does not seek its own rights and is never self-seeking. It does not pursue selfish aims. “The Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
Love is forgiving (v. 5c).
There is nothing more refreshing to the soul than having a sense of being forgiven by God and others. Love is not quick to take offence and seeks reconciliation. It does not keep accounts of wrongs done by others (2 Cor. 5:19; Rom. 4:8). God’s kind of love is forgiving. It does not hold grudges and “is never provoked,” and “does not take into account a wrong suffered.” Forgiveness is modeled for us perfectly in the love of Christ (Lk. 23:34; 1 Peter 4:8; Jas. 5:20; Matt. 18:21-22; 11:27-30). He was never touchy, fretful or resentful. Jesus did not store up resentment and bore no malice toward others.
Love edifies (v. 6a).
Love builds other people up and makes them look good. Love does not find any pleasure in finding wrongdoing in others. It edifies and says you are important in the Kingdom of God. “It does not rejoice in unrighteousness.” It rejoices when it sees the righteousness of God prevail. It is never glad when wrong is done. This was the example of Jesus in John 8:1-11, John 4, etc.
Love rejoices in the truth (v. 6b).
God’s kind of love gives others freedom to speak the truth (Eph. 4:25-27). Love is always glad when truth prevails.
Love protects (v. 7a).
God’s kind of love covers up a multitude of sins and covers over, shields, and protects people from injuries in life. It is always eager to look for the best in others. It “bears all things” like the covering of a roof (1 Cor. 9:12). "Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person."
Love trusts God in all circumstances (v. 7b).
Love believes in God and His sovereignty in everything and all circumstances. It exercises faith in everything, and there is nothing it cannot face. It causes the Christian to give others the benefit of doubt, and demonstrates your confidence in God. Love “believes all things, hopes a things, endures all things” because it points to an all-wise sovereign God. Prophesy, tongues, knowledge all have their purpose and will be done away with in time. But “love never fails” (v. 8).
How does God produce this kind of love in the Christian? It begins with trust in Him and His saving grace. All He needs is a willingness to make yourself available to Him. Allow Him to settle down and make Himself available in your heart. As you abide, or make yourself at home in Him, He reproduces His love within you and your attitudes, actions and behaviors change.
Do you want to love with this kind of love? This is what you need, your family needs, and those with whom you relate every day.
This kind of love never fades out and endures everything.