Reading For Monday 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
One should note that this portion of 1 Corinthians falls in the midst of teaching on spiritual gifts and their proper use. The church at Corinth was struggling with division, sexual immorality, lawsuits, marriage, divorce, food sacrificed to idols, acceptable behavior in church services, misuse of the Lord's Supper, arguments over spiritual gifts, and confusion of essential Christian doctrine. Paul writes to these immature believers (see chapter 3) and wants to show them a more excellent way. Paul begins by explaining that no matter how gifted and talented an individual might be, the absence of love renders all else as nothing. If one gave everything they own to the poor without love, they gain nothing. If one surrenders their life as a martyr without love, they gain nothing. The absence of love should cause one to pause and consider whether or not they are in the faith.
Paul defines some of the characteristics of Christian love so that there will not be any confusion for the church at Corinth. Paul starts with the positive attributes and then explains what is antithetical to Christian love. It is important to understand that Christian love is not some sentimental and uncontrollable emotion. John Stott puts it this way:
"Christian love is not the victim of our emotions but the servant of our will."
Christian love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and it never ends. It is patient, considerate, certain, and sacrificial. Love is not some fleeting fancy or infatuation that vanishes and is inconsistent. This is the evidence of grace manifested by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Love is the supreme ethic of the kingdom of God.
The greatest evidence that heaven has invaded our sphere, that the Spirit has been poured out upon us, that we are citizens of a kingdom not yet consummated, is Christian love. –D.A. Carson
Spiritual gifts will pass away, but for now, they are given to the church as the Lord gives the church what she needs until his coming. Do not embrace a childish understanding of love that is envious, boastful, rude, arrogant, selfish, irritable, resentful, impatient, unkind, shallow, temporal, or based solely on circumstances and feeling. Love is the evidence of grace brought about by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Paul tells the believers that the greatest of the triad: faith, hope, and love is love. Paul does not set these against one another. He simply points to the truth that faith has an object– Jesus Christ and our hope is found in the resurrection and our inheritance. One day we will see Jesus and obtain our resurrection life and heaven so our relationship to these things will change. However, love remains for God is love and our faith and inheritance find their origin in the love between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father decreed The Son accomplished, and the Spirit applies Christ's finished work. Love is the greatest of these.
Things To Consider:
- Why do we get so caught up in giftedness?
- What do we learn about religious deeds in verses 1-3?
- How should we assess the evidence of grace when it comes to love?
- Why is there so much confusion about true love?
- Why does Paul tell the Corinthians to stop being childish?
- How are you comforted by the truth that these things will pass away?
- Where do you see the evidence of grace around you currently?
- Where are you not demonstrating Christian love?
- Who will show Christian love to today?