Summary: Paul gives us the benchmark by which all our attempts at love must be measured and approved in verses 4-7 of I Corinthians 13.
A More Excellent Way
Text: I Corinthians 13:1-13
The Bible has a lot to say about love, the word occurs more than 180 times in the New Testament. Scripture tells of the power of love. It tells of what it can do for broken marriage or a severed relationship or a struggling family. Biblical Definition: LOVE = UB4ME
Keep in mind that this letter was written by the Apostle Paul in order to help the church in Corinth to get back on track with God. They had lost their way and had lost their focus. They thought of themselves as more important than others.
The chapters before and after chapter 13 are about how to use their gifts in their church. He ends chapter 12 with the fact that he is going to show a more excellent way – a way of love.
I. The Declaration of Love - Vs 1-3
A. Paul begins by declaring the pre-eminence of love in all things.
1. First we must understand the type of love God expects from us.
a. AGAPE has special meaning; it expresses a love of will (as opposed to an emotional love), a self-sacrificial love.
b. It is the love which our Lord has shown towards us.
Ephesians 5:1-2 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
c. AGAPE love requires action: 1 John 3:16-19
2. Without love in all we do then all we do means nothing!
a. The words we say – v.1 It doesn’t matter how eloquent you are – without love it will not mean a thing!
b. All that we know – v. 2 I may be the wisest, smartest person alive but without love in means nothing!
c. All that we believe – v.2
Matthew 7:21-23 Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.
d. All that we do - We can give everything we have, everything we are, even our lives but without the proper motivation, love, it is meaningless.
II. The Definition of Love Vs 4-7
A. Paul details what love is and is not.
1. What is essential to loving the way we ought is a definition and description of the “real deal”, the genuine article. Paul does not give a "technical analysis" of love, but breaks it down so that we may more easily understand it and apply it in a practical way. Paul gives us the benchmark by which all our attempts at love must be measured and approved in verses 4-7 of I Corinthians 13.
a. Love is patient...(vs. 4) The word "patient" literally means "long tempered." This word is common in the New Testament, and it is used almost exclusively in being patient with people (rather than circumstances or events).
1) Patience is the ability to be inconvenienced or taken advantage of over and over again. Steven's last words were those of patient forgiveness: "Lord, do not hold this sin against them" (Acts 7:60). As he lay dying, his concern was for the murderers not himself.
2) This is the love that Jesus speaks of that "turns the other cheek." Its primary concern is for the welfare of others, not itself.
b. Love is kind... (v. 4) Just as patience will take anything from others, kindness will seek to give to others. To be kind means to be useful, serving and gracious. It is active goodwill. It not only feels generous; it is generous. It not only desires others' welfare; it works for it.
1) God is our supreme model in this: Romans 2:4 “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”
c. Love is not jealous... (v. 4) This is the first of eight descriptions of what love is not. There are two kinds of jealousy:
1. We want what someone else has.
2. We wish that someone else didn't have what they had.
1) This is more than just selfishness; it desires evil for someone else. James warns of this:
James 3:14-16 “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.”