In the previous lesson, we spoke of love as a more excellent way to spirituality and unity within the church of Christ. Remember, all can posses and share love; love will never pass away, even in Heaven; and love demonstrates true Christianity. In this lesson, we are going to pay close attention to I Corinthians 13:4-7 and how we can apply these qualities to the love we are to have for each other as Christians.
Complete Christian Love
How important is love? In, Matthew 22:35, Jesus is asked about the greatest of the laws, and Jesus points to loving God and loving our neighbors as the focus of the Old Testament. Romans 13:8: “He that loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” Again, love is categorized as the focal point of godliness. I Peter 4:8 says that love enables us to help each other take care of sin. Finally, I John 4:7-8: “God is love.”
Now we are going to look at the traits of love in I Corinthians 13, and it is important to note that all of these traits are verbs in the Greek. Love is not conceptual; rather it is an action. This is love that is devoid of self-benefit; it is selfless. It is a love like Christ’s – “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.”
- Love is long-suffering. When it comes to our involvement with each other, there are going to be traits and habits that possibly annoy one another. Beyond this, long-suffering involves restraining one’s self when wronged. It is a love that does not quickly or easily retaliate to offense.
- Love is kind. Not only can love take anything; it can also give anything. In the Greek, we are useful to one another for good.
- Love does not envy. Jealousy wishes it has something; envy wants to take it away. Instead we are to rejoice for one another’s blessings, and we need to be thankful for what we do have. Remember, we all have blessings from God no one can deserve, so we should not begrudge the blessings of others.
- Love is not boastful. We should not have an inflated estimation of ourselves. In Romans 12:3, Paul reinforces this concept, and he reminds us of God’s role in our lives.
- Love is not rude. We try to teach manners to our children, but we often uncaring toward others as adults because of our self-concern.
- Love is not self-seeking. It is not “my way or the highway.” Love is considerate toward others and patient, and we may have to get out of our own way to achieve this.
- Love is not easily provoked. A loving Christian is not waiting to pick a fight. In James 1:19-20: “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” Conflict is not part of Christian love, but we may have to make a real conscious effort to stay silent.
- Love is not resentful. Love forgives and forgets. It does not keep an inventory of wrongs committed.
- Love does not rejoice in iniquity. We sometimes enjoy passing on bad information about others, nor does it take satisfaction in someone getting “what they deserve.” Rather, a loving Christian rejoices in truth.
- Love bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things. It is always hopeful and protective. We believe the best of our Christian family, and we should always be looking out for each others – dirty laundry, warts, and all. Even in the face of disappointment, love is optimistic for others, and it helps us endure against insurmountable odds.
Think about all the problems the church in Corinth had. If there was hope for their love and unity, there is hope for the church today. “Love never fails” (I Corinthians 13:8). Love completes our spirituality, and it is something we should be continually working on improving and understanding more.
lesson by Tim Smelser