1 Corinthians 13 is beautifully placed between chapters that challenge believers to live in love with one another, especially in the church. Chapter 13 on love sets the heart of how we are able to manage living in this world with all our relational ups and downs. If we heed the words taught in this chapter, we will live above the fray of the world and reach so many more to the household of God—and help them stay there. Love never fails or ends.
It is quite the bold statement to say, “Love never fails.” “Never” means: under no circumstances, not ever, and certainly not. It is the spiritual love that we are able to give to others when we receive holy spirit by accepting Jesus as the Son of Yahweh. In confessing Jesus as Lord, we receive this life-changing gift of love. We feel new, refreshed, and cleansed by it. Humankind talks about loving one another, yet we bite and devour one another.
1 Corinthians 13:1 (NCV). I may speak in different languages of people or even angels. But if I do not have love, I am only a noisy bell or a crashing cymbal.
Anything we do without the love of God as the motive, we are useless in that task. The next verses explain the importance of this godly love.
1 Corinthians 13:2-3 (NCV). I may have the gift of prophecy. I may understand all the secret things of God and have all knowledge, and I may have faith so great I can move mountains. But even with all these things, if I do not have love, then I am nothing. I may give away everything I have, and I may even give my body as an offering to be burned. But I gain nothing if I do not have love.
Paul very clearly states that we may do great, miraculous, and sacrificial feats. The caveat is if we do deeds without Yahweh’s love, it actually means nothing. “Nothing” means zero, zilch. That mountain in our life that we figuratively moved is worthless and rubbish without the love of God underscoring it. We need the Scripture to tell us exactly what spiritual love looks like in action.
1 Corinthians 13:4 (NCV). Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud.
Just the first descriptive word of love as patient gives us great pause. Patience brings about a peace in a matter. We give people time to work things out; we can wait until the time is right without anxiety. Love is kind. Kindness is being thoughtful, compassionate, and gentle. Take a few minutes to be patient about reading this article and think about when you have shown kindness. Possibly think about a time when someone else has been kind to you. We mostly have a flood of warm and loved feelings when we show and receive kindness. The pass it forward movement was predicated on this idea of receiving and showing kindness. Yet, all the kind deeds we do or receive are just actions unless they are served with godly love.
When we exhibit jealousy, we are saying that I am not getting my share of whatever the object of my jealousy is. Jealousy keeps our minds on ourselves and not on Yahweh as our provider. Contentment is an opposite of jealousy. Being content gives us awesome peace and stability in our lives. Thankfulness also contributes
Bragging is the opposite of humility. We can boast in the Lord and His gift to us, teaching others of the greatness of His love. This is to be done with humility and not boasting, such as: look at all God has done for me! Our testimony told with humility and the love of God will go far to help others want to know more about accepting the
1 Corinthians 13:5 (NCV). Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done.
Throughout a day, we may encounter someone who is rude. People may be vulgar or bad-mannered. It can set our day on edge if we allow their sin to disrupt us. We, as ambassadors for Christ, are able to be courteous and have words that are uplifting. The “I” word can get in our way. Ego-centrism is rampant—which is nothing new with humans. We hoard our finances, make sure we have the best seats, the best education, handsomest boyfriend or prettiest girlfriend. Taking the lead from Jesus and how he lived, we see that he got up early, stayed up late, walked miles and miles to help others, went hungry, and was exhausted, yet lovingly served people. He was self-less. God’s love is not selfish. When we follow Christ’s example, we will not be selfish.
The next trait listed in verse 5 is not to get upset with others. It seems impossible, but here it is in the Scripture that it is available. Because we have God’s love, we can love others and not get upset with their messes or foolishness. Recognizing that something is not right is fine, but our response needs to be one of helping the situation instead of selfish comebacks or being distressed. On two occasions Jesus saw thousands of people who were hungry, women and children included. He did not get upset and fuss that they had no food. Because he loved them, he asked his Heavenly Father to answer their need.
Ever count up wrongs that someone has done to you? Do you pack them up in a trunk in your mind so that when it is time to bring them all out to number the offenses, they are easily retrieved and displayed? That storage space in our minds can be better utilized by remembering loving times, godly encounters, and verses from Scripture that sustain us. Forgiveness is a key to letting go of past offenses. Forgiveness does not say what was done was right, it says that I am not holding this problem against you anymore.
1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NCV). Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures.
When a friend sins, we are not to be inclined to laud it over the person, even in our minds, that the wrong was done. It is better to humble ourselves and say to ourselves that the truth of the situation is that Jesus saves, we repent, we are forgiven, and we can move forward in love. If we cannot do this task within a short amount of time, we need focused prayer for healing and deliverance from past wounds that are allowing personal pain or rejoicing in iniquity to continue.
We patiently accept the present. We have no control over others, only ourselves. In those situations, love gives us the ability to trust in Yahweh and Jesus, hope for the coming of Jesus, and love gives us endurance to live through all sorts of situations.
1 Corinthians 13:7. it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
The King James Version translates this as “bears all things.” The words “bear” and “keep” are very similar. The word “bear” is to keep close or hold up under. No matter what the stressors are or how heavy the burdens are, due to love, we manage and hold up well. When a friend comes to us and unburdens difficulties, we are to keep their confidence. By keeping and bearing, we can confidently speak the Word, pray, and have Yahweh give wisdom to the situation.
Verse 7 says that love gives us the ability to accept all things. Is this saying we are to believe everything we hear or is done to us? Not at all. We are to believe Scripture, not cultural beliefs. As we lovingly hope in the coming of the Savior, Jesus Christ, we will stay steadfast and faithful to the end. Because the hope is the anchor of our soul, we can endure to the end.
1 Corinthians 13:8a (NCV). Love never ends.
The King James Version translates this sentence as “Love never fails.” The concept of love as a finite thing was prevalent in my younger years. I remember when first married, I asked my husband how much he loved me. He would, with a big smile, say bunches and bunches or spread his arms wide and say this much and more. After a while, I began to understand more about the never-ending love of Yahweh, and I deduced that my husband loves Yahweh, he has holy spirit within him to teach him to love, and so he loves me with a constant love that never ends. I have not had to ask him again how much he loves me, because I know.
Love will be after this present age ends. Love will be the foundation of the new heaven and earth. We can have successes now because of love. It gives us the courage to go on when times are rough. We can have a taste of the future age every time we love. Love never fails. Love never ends.
1 John 3:18 (NASB). Little children, let’s not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.
Let us love in word and deed. The love Yahweh bestowed on us never runs out. There is under no circumstance a shortage of love. It is eternal. It is spiritual. It is yours to give freely.
1 Corinthians 13:13 (NCV). So these three things continue forever: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.