“Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye.”
-H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Week 9 has descended upon us, my dear people! It’s been a few weeks since we covered the topic of love and I Corinthians but today is our very last entry! We’ve come to the end of this specific section of I Corinthians 13 and we’re going to hit it rapid fire! Before we dive in, here’s a little bit of background for those who are new.
The idea of love needs no introduction. It’s what we all crave. We search for it. We grasp on to it. We find comfort in it. We desire to love and to be loved. One could say that love is truly the central focal point of our lives.
Our day and age constitutes “love” as something to be felt. Love is easily portrayed and sought after as an emotion. We feel it when we see that special person in our lives. We experience it when we are touched, made to feel special, etc…
What’s wrong with this line of thinking?
Love is so much more than a feeling. Hormones are feelings. Love is action.
I think that we can all agree that words can only get you so far in life. It’s one thing to say “I love you” but if they never show it, do they really mean it? On the flip end, if you say you love someone but only seek to serve yourself in the relationship, is it really love?
If you answered “no”, you’d be correct. I Corinthians 13, the chapter of the Bible that we’ve been camping out in for nine weeks, compounds this very idea. Never once in these verses does Paul exhibit love to be an emotion. Rather, he expounds the very idea as something acted upon.
“Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs.” I Corinthians 13:4-5
Paul is writing this letter to the Corinthian believers because they had been arguing with each other, causing dissension amongst the church body, and also allowing sin to fester itself within the body of Christ. All of which are major no-no’s in the Christian world, according to the Bible…and God.
Love exhibits itself in being patient and kind when others are quite the opposite. Love does not seek its own selfish motives but puts others first and as more important than itself. It holds no grudges. Today, and finally, we see the last commands of what real love should be.
“Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” I Corinthians 13:6-8a
We’re going to cover each of these ideas quickly and effectively.
IT’S TIME FOR RAPID FIRE, BABY!
-“No joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth.” is Paul’s way of combating the Corinthians error to call out sin in their Christian brother and sister’s lives. They were allowing some pretty raunchy and disgusting things to exist inside their church body and God obviously has a huge problem with this for two reasons.
1.) He hates sin.
2.) He mandated that Christians show love by being faithful to encourage and challenge their brothers and sisters; to push them towards being more like Christ.
The Christians were failing to be faithful to God on both accounts. True love does not rejoice in wrongdoing but, rather, is faithful to push others to seek the truth. Real love — Godly love — pushes others to the truth, not sin.
-“Bears all things…” draws on the previous implications of love. If love is patient, kind, selfless, and does not hold a grudge, then it should also be said that love will “bear” with others. The Barnes’ Notes on the Bible puts it best:
“It means, that in regard to the errors and faults of others, there is a disposition “not” to notice or to revenge them. There is a willingness to conceal, or to bear with them patiently.”
It should also be noted that “all things” does not literally mean “all things.” There are direct mandates in the Bible where someone’s sin should be brought publicly (see Matthew 18:15-17) Also, legal matters are an exception to this. If you know that someone committed a murder, it’s probably best to let legal officials know. #justsayin
-“Believes all things…” is a simple way of saying that real love assumes the best and gives the benefit of the doubt. It assumes no ill-will until evidence directly says otherwise.
-“Hopes all things…” Not only does real love assume the best, real love hopes that even though life may be rough, clarity and peace will come sooner than later; albeit on this earth or when we see Jesus in heaven. It is the flip-side of the “believes all things” coin.
-“Endures all things. Love never ends.” This is a great way to tie all of these characteristics of love together. If we love like Paul has described then our love will endure through it all and it will never end.
The truth of the matter, my friends, is that emotions are fleeting. We all know this. Why are we so surprised when the elation and “butterflies” of love end when entering into a relationship with others? There will come a time when you don’t “feel” like loving someone else. It will have to be a choice and true, godly love always chooses to be patient, kind, etc…
If you’re a Christian, you are called and commanded to pursue this kind of love. What are you doing to show the love that Christ showed to a broken world? What areas do you need to challenge yourself in? There is always forgiveness and grace found in Christ so rest in His ability to do this in you while you take the opportunities He gives you to grow.