The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the CORINTHIANS – Chapter 13
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
With such a well known scripture, that so many have taught from, you almost do not want to say anything but just read it, and read it ….. to let it sink in. With no love words are meaningless, with no love spiritual gifts are meaningless, with no love if I give away everything or give up my life (as a suicide bomber) it is meaningless. David Guzik mentions that at the time some Christians believed that being martyred was the highest form of expressing your love for Christ and it would wash away all your sins. So, even this had been infected with pride – to think an action on our part would gain favour with God. No, it is all grace. If God chooses to use us as a witness by loosing our life for His glory – then hallelujah. But, it is not my giving, it is His giving that counts. Matthew Henry says “The most grievous sufferings, the most costly sacrifices, will not recommend us to God, if we do not love the brethren; “. Agape love – the self sacrificing love that expects nothing in return – shed abroad in our hearts will lead people to Christ, nothing less.
“For God so LOVED the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
This describes the love of Christ who was patient and kind, not proud or rude, led but did not demand, was long suffering, hated sin, spoke the truth in love, bore our sins and iniquities, hoped in the promise of the Father that He would be resurrected and endured the cross despising the shame. That same love lives on us. This passage is not a standard to live up to. You can not promise at a wedding always to love like this although that is admirable. But, we can express the love Christ puts in our heart by the Holy Spirit:
and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. – Romans 5:5
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, – Galatians 5:22
1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,
2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. – Philippians 2:1-3
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. – 1 Corinthians 13:8-10
When the perfect comes that which is incomplete will pass away. Everything on this earth in this universe will pass away. We will pass away from this earth. So we have to depend on the One who will not pass away. The One who is perfect.
And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, – Hebrews 5:9
he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. – Hebrews 9:12
The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. And he thrust out the enemy before you and said, ‘Destroy.’ – Deuteronomy 33:27
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. – Revelation 21:1
And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, – Ezekiel 11:19
What we do on this earth will pass away. What God does in our hearts will never pass away. He is making us new and what is of Him will never pass away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. – 1 Corinthians 13:11.
We have heard it often preached that Christian maturity means putting away immature thoughts and actions but let’s consider this from a different angle. Jesus said:
Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” – Luke 18:17
3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 18:3-4
There is a positive side to being a child. A child is: inquisitive, a quick learner, trusting, says what they think without a filter, observant, is always asking why to learn the truth, reliant and humble, knowing they need their parents. We would do well to have these qualities in our relationship with God. As Jesus said receive the kingdom of God as a child. But when we become a man we become arrogant, independent, self righteous, narrow minded, selfish and proud. Maybe it was a sad thing to put away childish things? Paul refers to Timothy as his true child:
To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. – 1 Timothy 1:2
Titus was also called his true child. He recognised those who humbled themselves and became his pupils, his learners and his disciples, as his children. Children have a “life long” learner attitude, they want to know more. A mindset we would do well to adopt.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:33
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:29-30
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13
What do faith hope and love have in common? They all believe in a promise. Faith is believing in something we can not know with our physical senses. To believe in God we have to allow our spiritual sense to take command we trust in the word of God that reveals the Living God. We trust the promises that He is a loving, compassionate, merciful God. Hope is the assurance that what God has promised will happen. This is not to be confused with our common use of the word “hope” as in “I hope you have a nice day” but as in “the hope of the resurrection.”
having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. – Acts 24:15
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, – 1 Peter 1:3
The word of God promises that we will be resurrected.
35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage,
36 for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. – Luke 20:35-36
Love is the very nature of God and is given to us as a gift through the death of Jesus for our redemption. Love is the experience of being one with God and he promises we will be with Him.
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, – Jude 1:24
Faith, hope and love depend on promises and are gifts to us from our Heavenly Father. They are spiritual in nature and received spiritually.
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. – 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Thank God He is transforming us into His own image, filling us by His Spirit with faith, hope and love.
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me-practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:9
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.