1 Corinthians 13
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
Love is patient
There is a tendency for us to more readily spot flaws in others than in ourselves.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
One challenge is that having identified the flaws, we want them to be removed quickly. We get upset when the change that we require does not take place immediately. We are increasingly upset when the undesirable behaviour occurs.
There is an important fact that many do not recognize or accept.
In many instances, we are especially frustrated and annoyed at behaviours in others that we have struggled with in our own lives.
This is usually some event or action or behaviour that happened or continues to occur in our lives that we detest. Our feelings about it are so strong that we want to hit out at it – wherever it appears with a passion.
We project the frustration that we have about ourselves (past or present) unto the offender with increased intensity.
Consequently, it is useful to review those things that bring out your wrath to see if at some stage they were or still are issues for you.
1 Corinthians 13 is reminding us that in the context of the overarching command to love our neighbours, patience is required.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each otherand forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
A charge to you today is the examine ways in which you are impatient. See if in those moments of frustration a feeling of deep and sincere love for the other person is your primary motive.
When love is at the heart of what we do, the level of impatience with others is not as great.
Love is kind
One key to letting kindness be an active part of our lives is to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes.
If we were in their position, what would we want?
That mindset has a way of bringing out the best in us.
It is important to remember that being kind is not only about providing money and things.
At the same time, sometimes our kindness should extend to providing for physical needs.
I John 3:
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
Love does not envy
Aristotle (in Rhetoric) defined envy (φθόνος phthonos) “as the pain caused by the good fortune of others”, while Kant defined it as “a reluctance to see our own well-being overshadowed by another’s because the standard we use to see how well off we are is not the intrinsic worth of our own well-being but how it compares with that of others” (in Metaphysics of Morals). Source: Wikipedia
If we go back to wanting for others what we want for ourselves then we will be happy with whatever blessings they have received.
The command to “love your neighbour as yourself” directly opposes any thought of envy.
Love does not boast and is not proud
Boasting and pride are linked to our EGO or deceived SELF.
Recall the two main highways that lead to a corrupted way of thinking.
The first one leads us to getting attached to things, people and positions.
The more things we can claim as “mine” the fatter the EGO and the greater the level of deception.
The second highway takes us to a place where we focus on thinking how different we are from others.
The more different we are the bigger the EGO and the more deceived we become.
Christians are called to renew their minds (Romans 12). They are to reject the corrupt way of thinking that is wrapped up in “Mine” and “I am not like that”.
The key is to recognize that we are merely stewards of our material possessions and the positions that we hold. That situation can be dramatically changed without warning.
When we realize that things and positions are not an intrinsic part of who we are, then we deny self the right to boast or to be proud.
Only the insane will boast about a castle on a hill as if it belonged to them when they have no connection at all with it. Be careful how we use “my” and “mine” to impress others and to feel good about ourselves. We really do not own anything in a real sense.
The love of which 1 Corinthians 13 speaks comes from a renewed mind. This mind no longer conforms to the dictates of the EGO – the deceived Self. It does not hang on to things and positions.
Love does not dishonour others
Something that is unique – one of its kind – is highly treasured. A normal man who runs 100 meters in 11 seconds will not be widely celebrated. If you are the only one that runs it in 9:59 seconds then respect and adoration for you abounds.
The EGO feeds on adoration and on being celebrated.
If you put these two thoughts together you will recognize why it is important for the EGO to work hard at being different. The more we are just like everybody else the less respect and adoration we can claim.
A well fed EGO – our deceived SELF – actively puts down others in a drive to elevate itself.
Alternatively, it constantly reminds others of things that make them standout so others feel diminished and “less valued.”
Think about the “My father..” verbal contests among young boys or the “Your Momma” insult trade off of adolescents.
The love that comes from a renewed mind is humble. It seeks to relate to others where they are and to respect them.
Love is not self-seeking
The scriptures consistently prod us to become “equal opportunity thinkers”.
We should have a mindset that wants the best for not only self but for all others.
Php 2:3 Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves. (Good News Bible)
2Ti 3:1 Remember that there will be difficult times in the last days. 2 People will be selfish, greedy, boastful, and conceited; they will be insulting, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, and irreligious; 3 they will be unkind, merciless, slanderers, violent, and fierce; they will hate the good; 4 they will be treacherous, reckless, and swollen with pride; they will love pleasure rather than God; 5 they will hold to the outward form of our religion, but reject its real power. Keep away from such people. (Good News Bible)
Love is not easily angered
Anger is a melting pot of many ingredients. These include:
An action/event … a stimulus
State of mind
How the event is processed
Implications & Consequences
Circumstances under which event took place – private/public etc.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
The Mindset has the power to overwrite the impact of all the other elements. That is why with a renewed mind, we can turn the other cheek.
We cannot overemphasize the importance and value of working on the way we think and getting to the point where we are more Christ-like in our thinking, feelings and actions.
Love keeps no record of wrongs
Col 3: 13 Bear with each otherand forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.
The false sense of “ME” that we embrace and protect so vigorously is a major contributor to the difficulty we have in dealing with what we perceive to be the wrongs of others.
The more highly we think of ourselves the greater the chance that someone is going to do or say something that does not fit well with our self image.
That is why some people get the feeling of being disrespected so easily.
Amazingly, people who have low self esteem are also very easily hurt by the actions of others.
The arrogant and conceited personality as well as those that have doubts about their competence and self worth tend to hold on to hurts for a long time.
When you feel good about who you are, the darts that others throw at you tend to bounce off more easily.
Another mindset that promotes unforgiveness is the desire to take revenge and punish the offender.
This is the eye for eye mentality that Christ warns against.
Matt 5: 38
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.
Lev 19:18 Do not take revenge on others or continue to hate them, but love your neighbors as you love yourself. I am the LORD.
19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
The love of 1 Corinthians 13 is associated with a transformed and renewed mind.
It is tied to a mind that manifests the fruit of the Spirit:
Gal 5: 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like, I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.
It is clear here that the flesh (our sinful nature) is the source of behaviour that wars against the Spirit.
Mat 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Love always protects
Think about the love that a mother has for her newborn baby and you get the picture of what this means. Nothing more needs to be said here.
Love always trusts
Trust is the glue that holds healthy relationships together.
When we act in ways that betray that trust, we weaken the bond of love and place the relationship at risk.
At the same time, trust is a two-way street. The failure of one party to trust makes it difficult for true bonding to take place.
In the scriptural framework, it is far better to trust and be betrayed than to withhold trust and be constantly imputing dishonest actions or motives on the part of others.
Love always hopes
When we love someone we want the very best for them. We hold out great hope that their wishes and aspirations will be achieved.
No surprise then that a love that is anchored in loving God with all our heart, loving ourselves and loving others as we love ourselves is full of hope and positive expectations.
The mind that allows the fruit of the Spirit to ripen in it will demonstrate a pure love and will rejoice in hope.
Love always perseveres
True love is not fickle. It is not easily disappointed or discouraged.
There is a sense of looking beyond faults and focusing on the end goals.
2 Peter 3:9
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Love never fails
The love of 1 Corinthians 13 overcomes all obstacles.
Its poster example is reflected in Romans 5:8:
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The challenge to you today is to let love be central to your very existence.
Repent of the unloving ways in which you have acted and continue to act.
Develop a deeper relationship with Christ and His teaching. Obey His commands and follow His example.