In 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 Paul describes a few of love’s practical dimensions. When you read these verses, remember that these instructions were delivered to household churches and that to give instruction to the household churches was to give instruction in terms of family behavior.
Notice that all of these descriptions of love have to do with our relationships with others.
1 Corinthians 13:4, “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant”:
“Love is patient…”
There’s a lot more to patience than the mere ability, for example, to wait in line to buy a ticket to a concert. Patience means being willing to live with someone else’s faults and problems. It means being willing to live without forcing your will upon another. It means being willing to live in relationship, knowing that life does not always revolve around you.
“…love is kind…”
The word kind is a cross between good and merciful. It means to have the needs of the other person in mind; to see another person in need and to act with kindness in view of that other situation. To act in kindness is to know that I don’t live unto myself. To act in kindness is to get outside the matrix of my own way of thinking and to see the needs of others.
“…love… is not jealous…”
The story of Jesus is the story of His own relinquishing of His heavenly glory, His life of service, His life of giving. That is the model of love. It is the behavior of self-giving, not merely the feelings of the heart. You cannot always control the way the heart feels. The emotions can be a very tricky thing. Jealousy is the kind of attitude that wants to protect only me, but the heart of a servant longs for the success of someone else.
“…love does not brag and is not arrogant…”
Love is never boastful even when it has something to boast about. Love does not allow me to have an inflated estimation of myself.
1 Corinthians 13:5-6, “does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;”:
“…love…does not act unbecomingly…”
To act rudely is somehow to think that things have to go my way. I act rudely when I have pressure upon me and I want things done my way without giving any thought to the other person’s feelings.
“…love … does not seek its own…”
Love does not think the world revolves around itself. Love gives, love shares, and love is disposed towards the other. Read more about our life focus here.
“…love… is not provoked…”
Love is willing, whatever the difficulty and circumstances, to recognize that my problems are not the only problems in the world, and to know that there is someone else who needs consideration and love and thoughtfulness.
“…love…does not take into account a wrong suffered…”
Love, in other words, does not hold a grudge. How many times have you thought you had forgiven something already, only to discover the work of forgiveness is the kind of work that has to go on repeatedly?
“…love… does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth…”
Love endures in all circumstances. This does not mean that love is gullible; it means that love is able to bear up in all problems of life. Love endures in the midst of every evil circumstance.
The greatest of all of life’s behaviors and expressions is love. What will you take into the age to come?
We have all heard repeatedly the old saying, “You can’t take it with you.” But the Scriptures are referring to material possessions when they say, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…” (Matthew 6:19)
The fact is that some things in life do transcend death. Those things that we have authentically loved are somehow spiritually redeemed and carried into the age to come. Love will characterize both this life and the life to come.
Do we love? Do we live practically as loving people? If we do, we are living the life of Jesus Christ.
Related blogs about love:
- Love and Spiritual Gifts: What You Need to Know
- Do You Know What True Love is?
- How Do You Know That God Loves You?
The preceding was adapted by Rachel Motte from a sermon Dr. Sloan delivered at Tallowood Baptist Church on June 24, 1990.