First Corinthians 13 is one of the greatest chapters in the Bible. It is known as the love chapter. Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another” (Jn. 13:35).
The Experience of Love
Everyone enjoys a love story. The greatest love story is found in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God has given many different descriptions and names to Himself, but the simplest and shortest is love. God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). First Corinthians 13:1-3 makes it very clear that love makes your words and actions mean something. Whatever you are doing, if you are not doing it out of love, it amounts to nothing.
The Expression of Love
In verses 4-7, we see how love is expressed. The Corinthians were not loving one another. They were suing one another! Paul is showing a more excellent way. These verses will change your marriage, family, and relationships. They don’t just tell us what love is but what love does. And, because God is love, you can insert the name of Jesus in front of each of these characteristics. Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind, etc. Try inserting your name in these verses. Can you say you are these things? This passage is convicting! We may fall short in so many of these areas, but Jesus doesn’t. It’s why we need Him.
Love is patient, meaning it has a long fuse. It doesn’t blow up easily when frustrated or annoyed. Love is kind, meaning it doesn’t always strike back. It’s easy to react or respond back to someone how they treated us, but hard to respond in kindness. Kindness is not weakness, it’s love. Love does not envy, meaning it doesn’t covet what others have. Envy is meanness of the soul and begrudging the fact that others have something. Love does not boast, meaning it doesn’t show off or try to impress others. Love is not proud, meaning, it’s not big-headed. Pride causes division. Love does not dishonor others, meaning it’s not rude. Love has good manners and is gracious. Love is not self-seeking, meaning it lives for others. Love is not easily angered, meaning it doesn’t lose its temper. Love keeps no record of wrongs, meaning it doesn’t store memories of wrongs done. We need to remember the best and forget the rest. God forgives us and we should forgive others! Love does not delight in evil, meaning it doesn’t gossip or delight in passing on bad news. Instead, love rejoices with the truth. John said he had no greater joy than to hear that his children were walking in the truth (3 Jn. 1:4). Love always protects, meaning it puts itself on the line for others. It has people’s backs. Love always trusts, meaning it believes the best in people. It’s not deceived but gives the benefit of the doubt. Only God knows other people’s motives. Love always hopes, meaning it’s always looking forward. It’s optimism over cynicism. Love always perseveres, meaning it doesn’t give up. Jesus loved His own “to the end” (Jn. 13:1).
The Endurance of Love
Verse 8 says, “Love never fails.” Love is lasting. It is the greatest. Verses 9-12 remind us that the gifts we talked about in chapter 12 are for now, but love lasts forever. Notice the word “now” in verse 12. We can’t live in the past or future. We can only live in the now. And, now, we are fully known by God. Do you ever feel lonely? You are fully known by God in heaven!
Paul ends this chapter saying, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (v. 13). Why is love the greatest? Because God is love. Do you have faith? hope? love? You can with Jesus. Faith because He died for you. Hope because He is coming back for you. Love because God is love and He will come live inside of you. Religion is spelled DO. In all other religions of the world, the responsibility is on people. They have to do enough good works to have a good eternity. Christianity is spelled DONE. Jesus loved us so much that He paid the price for our sin on the cross. It is by grace we have been saved, through faith, and not by works (Eph. 2:8). There is no greater love than this!