The Love Chapter – The Definition Of Love
By Steph Nickel
If you are looking for the definition of love, look no further than the love chapter – I Corinthians 13. In this post, Steph Beth Nickel explores some of the truths contained in the chapter.
The Love Chapter
First Corinthians 13 is only a brief chapter, but it is packed with truths we must meditate on.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 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. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
“Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 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. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” ( I Corinthians 13: 1-13)
Bad News, Good News
In my previous post, we focused on the first three verses of this chapter. They can be extremely disheartening if we stop there. But God doesn’t give us the bad news without also giving us the Good News.
If we consider the analogy in John 15, we will get a better idea of how God’s kind of love can fill us and flow through us. Jesus is the Vine and we are the branches. God’s love flows freely through the Vine and out through the branches that are firmly affixed to that Vine.
And what does God’s kind of love look like? “It is patient”—and not the kind of patience that waits without complaining for dessert or the kind of patience we need when waiting in traffic for a red light to turn green. I like the Old English translation of the Greek word used here; that Old English word is long-suffering. That gives us a whole new perspective.
“Love is kind. It does not envy or boast. It is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing. Love rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never ends.”
Love Is Not Fluffy
These descriptors don’t reflect the fluffy, feelings-based, be-nice-to-be-and-I’ll-be-nice-to-you perspective of love that the world promotes. How often do we hear about people falling in and out of love? About individuals walking away when the one they claimed to love no longer measures up? Or of allowing hurt feelings to drive a wedge between a friendship that have lasted for decades?
Again, this could all be very discouraging—if we focus on the world’s perspective of love and our inability to love like the Lord loves.
But because God is willing and eager to fill us with the love described in 1 Corinthians 13, we can rejoice. We can accept the greatest gift of love: salvation through Jesus Christ. We can depend on His promise to fill us with His Holy Spirit. Because of His mercy and grace, we can abide in the Vine.
And when we do, this kind of love—God’s kind of love—will begin to well us within us.
Just a quick aside . . . this kind of love doesn’t mean becoming a doormat for those who would take advantage of us or a victim of those who would abuse us. (Allowing these things to happen isn’t actually an expression of God’s love.)
But as we consider how to love as God commands, we must remember that His kind of love is more about the other person than it is about us. Remember Philippians 2:3? It says,
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
God’s Kind Of Love
God’s kind of love puts others’ needs above our own.
And how can we love God—and others—as we should? The answer is in 1 John 4:19:
“We love because he first loved us.”
We must dwell on His great love for us. When we begin to grasp the depths of that love, we will grow to love Him more and more and we’ll want to love those we encounter, knowing God loves them richly and deeply as well.
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I Love You – Paul Joseph
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