The Enduring Clarifying Power of God’s Love
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”
In our passage under review we have the clearest and most descriptive picture of love found in the Scriptures. It is no coincidence that what has become commonly known as the love chapter, is positioned in the midst of a detailed explanation of the gifts and operations of the Holy Spirit. Love within this context speaks to motives. The why behind all our activities, is here contrasted in the light of God’s perfect intentions (verses 1-3).
The Essence of God and His Kingdom
Love is descriptive of more than just God’s motives, it is the essence of His character.
Love stood behind every thought, word, and deed in the earthly ministry of Jesus. The entire picture of love in our passage points to the powerfully transforming, eternal character of Christ. God’s entire Kingdom stands on the infinitely enduring power of Divine Love.
In fact, the entire meaning and intention of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, cannot be properly understood, without Divine Love as the foundational principle for interpretation. The context of any passage is useless to us without knowing the why, which speaks to God’s eternal character and purpose that motivates all He does.
In answering the question of the greatest commandment, Jesus places the entire Law under Love; for God, others, and ourselves. “Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40). This reveals God’s intent behind the Ten Commandments as well. In the first four commandments love regulates our relationship with God, in the final six love regulates our relationships with others.
Love is Others Oriented
The entire purpose of world redemption is to transform the character of all people to reflect the character of Christ. In addressing the motives behind life and the use of the Spirit’s gifts, Paul establishes the superiority of Love above all things. God edifying, exhorting, and comforting His people-the Church, is what the use of the gifts are all about. The gifts are not for drawing attention to ourselves, but to Christ.
Notice how all fifteen unfailing qualities of love in our passage are relationally oriented. Paul continues by showing how love endures for all time and eternity. By walking in God’s Love, we will never intentionally do any harm to others – ever (Romans 13:10).
Continue in God’s Love
As we continue to meet with God in prayer meditating on His Word, applying His love in our daily life; the Holy Spirit will begin changing us into the image and likeness of Christ. God’s Presence and character has a transforming influence in the life of anyone who spends regular time alone with Him.
God’s Love is not some behavioral modification or self-improvement technique, but an actual transformation of our character done by the Holy Spirit from the inside out. The idea behind the childish thinking and the dim mirror in 1 Corinthians 13:11-12, is about the process of maturing in Christ. We must go beyond our initial limited understanding of things, growing to see ourselves as clearly as God does in Christ.
Begin seeing yourself in Christ as God does, by meditating on the character of Christ and on the passages that speak of His love for you and others. This continual looking at Christ and His character will cause you to desire to be more like Him in every way. You will actually gradually become what you constantly think and see in Christ.
This is the work of the Holy Spirit as you come to understand the power Christ’s love in your life. As you continue to practice Love toward God and others His character will be progressively formed within you.
So, meditate on the Love of Christ, begin to see yourself as God does, trust yourself to the infinitely enduring, unfailing power of God’s Love, Be transformed into His image, and Be Encouraged. -JSP