Summary: Exposition of 1 Cor 13:4

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:4

Title: The Hallmarks of Love 1

Date/Place: LSCC, 2/20/05, AM


A. Opening illustration: the lady who wanted to divorce her husband in the most painful way possible. The suggestion was to go and act like you love him for 2 months, and make him believe it, then drop the bomb on him. At the end of two months, she said, no way, she did love him. Emotion followed closely behind motion.

B. Background to passage: After clearly making a case for the indispensability of love for the Christian life, Paul moves to the greatest definition of love ever penned. He gives us fifteen verbs, not adjectives, which show the defining qualities of how love is practiced. These are not potentialities, nor is it a salad bar theology of choice, these are the essential characteristics of practicing Christian love.

C. Main thought: We will look at the first three hallmarks of genuine Christian love


A. Love is Patient

1. This word comes from two Gr words meaning long or distant and wrath. It means to be long-tempered, opp of short-tempered. It was always used to deal with people, not circumstances. It is speaking of love’s self-restraint. It endures much, refuses to retaliate. It spoke of love’s ability to be wronged or taken advantage of without anger. Its primary concern is for the welfare of others, therefore it is much more willing to be taken advantage of, than to take advantage of another, much less retaliate. It was a word often used of God in His patience toward us. This word was not a virtue among men in the first century, nor is it in ours.

2. Rom 2:4, 1 Tim 1:16, Rom 12:17, Matt 5:39, Pro 20:22, 1 Pet 2:19-23, Hosea’s analogy

3. Illustration: A man’s car stalled in the heavy traffic as the light turned green. All his efforts to start the engine failed, and a chorus of honking behind him made matters worse. He finally got out of his car and walked back to the first driver and said, "I’m sorry, but I can’t seem to get my car started. If you’ll go up there and give it a try, I’ll stay here and blow your horn for you. Robert Ingersoll, a well-known atheist of the last century used to give God five minutes to strike him dead, in a supposed proof that God did not exist. Someone said, “Did this gentleman think that he could exhaust the patience of an infinite God in five minutes?” “Christians need to be given the painful reminder that frequent displays of temper betray the absence or at least the severe limitation of love.” Paige Patterson, Charlie and his temper.

4. This doesn’t preclude any anger. This doesn’t preclude admonition—1 Thess 5:14, because love and patience does not include the tolerance of evil. As Christians, we must remember whose responsibility vengeance is. If we are truly practicing agape love, then we will endure wrong for the good of another. This works out in our marriages, jobs, and other relationships in a powerful way. When you defer your anger at work before other employees, it demonstrates your agape. I want to challenge husbands and wives this week to a test, each time you are frustrated with your spouse, practice love in the form of deferring your anger. Note the kind of results that it will have on your relationship.

B. Love is Kind

1. This is the more active side of patience. This word means serving graciously. It means to be helpful, willing to assist, or willing to furnish what is needed. It is the highly valuing part of love, the self-sacrificing part of love that is most concerned about the needs of another. It is the opposite of being neglectful, harsh, sharp, bitter, and resentful. It is also in a middle voice, meaning that it does this on its own. And it not only feels generous, it acts generous. It not only desires another’s welfare, it works for it. The love sees the needs of others, and by the grace of God, does everything in its power to meet those needs. Again this is another character trait used of God—Titus 3:4-6, 1 Pet 2:2-3.

2. Pro 15:1, Matt 5:40-41, 44, Eph 4:32,

3. Illustration: “My Dearest Mother, I was badly hurt while doing my duty, and I won’t recover. Don’t sorrow too much for me. May God bless you and Father. Kiss Mary and John for me.” The young man was too weak to go on, so Lincoln signed the letter for him and then added this postscript: “Written for your son by Abraham Lincoln.” he asked. “Yes,” was the quiet answer. “Now, is there anything else I can do?” 103 ways that a husband can show love to his wife list.

4. Wives you know that there is a difference between your husband willingly doing something that you have asked him to do, versus him willingly doing that something before you asked because he saw the need. We must follow God’s example and take the initiative in kindness. We must be on the lookout for ways that we may demonstrate kindness. In relationships in might mean a little unexpected gift, like flowers, from time to time. A note expressing love left in a place where one may find it. Taking out the trash before you are asked. Fixing the blown light bulb as soon as it goes out. Making a favorite meal. Doing the dishes. This applies to friends, family, and enemies

C. Love is not envious

1. Webster’s defines “envy” as a resentful desire for another’s possessions. It means to burn or boil with desire for something that you don’t possess. It is much related to the word covetousness. Cf. 10 Commandments. It exists in two forms: 1) I want what someone else has, and 2) I wish they did not have what they have. Basically it is saying that self is primary. Others joys, triumphs, and victories should rightfully go to me. It is a pride of the worst kind. This verse is saying that the one who loves rejoices in the successes of others. This kind of love prevents rivalry and division within the body.

2. 1 Cor 3:3, James 3:16, 1 Pet 2:1. Cain, Daniel/den, the elder brother, Phi 4:11, 1 Tim 6:6

3. Illustration: some instance of alleged love lost, no one will have her, the perfect state of this aspect of love will be demonstrated in Heaven, The industrious rich fisherman and the contented lazy fisherman. In the fifth century, a man named Arsenius determined to live a holy life. So he abandoned the conforms of Egyptian society to follow an austere lifestyle in the desert. Yet whenever he visited the great city of Alexandria, he spent time wandering through its bazaars. Asked why, he explained that his heart rejoiced at the sight of all the things he didn’t need. “If you find you’re lacking anything, neighbor, let me know and I’ll show you how to live without it,” said the Amish man to his techno neighbor.

4. Are your first thoughts always of yourself? In every circumstance, is the first question, how does this affect me? To get at the practical application, ask yourself this question: “Regardless of how I feel, how do I best serve these for whom Christ died, that they may achieve the greatest success possible for them?” Then to fully practice love, we must follow through with what the Spirit leads us to do. And when we do it, we must rejoice in the successes of others. Even when we are in a deep dark valley of suffering, and others are seem to be soaring with Jesus. There is a major personal application that will keep you from being envious…contentment. We must learn to be content in whatever state we are in. This doesn’t mean not to seek improvement, simply that if improvement doesn’t come, you will be satisfied with what God has provided. Stop always wanting more. The grass is not greener on the other side.

A. Closing illustration: She looked up at me with those giant limpid brown eyes and said sadly, “Well, Daddy, it cost fifty cents. So, I gave Brandon my quarter.” Then she said the most beautiful thing I ever heard. She repeated the family motto. The family motto is in “Love is Action!”