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Summary: The commands of love in 1 Corinthians 13 aren’t just for wedding ceremonies, but for the Church and her ministry throughout the world.

THE GREATEST NEED THE WORLD HAS TODAY IS FOR THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH TO SHOW THEM AND PROVE TO THEM THAT THERE REALLY IS SUCH A THING AS THE GENUINE, CHRIST-LIKE EXAMPLE OF AGAPE LOVE.

IF YOU JUST SIMPLY LOOK AT TODAY’S POPULAR CULTURE IN LITERATURE, MUSIC, ADVERTISING AND THE VISUAL ARTS, YOU WOULD QUICKLY COME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT IT DOES NOT KNOW THE DEFINITION OF LOVE.

IF WE TOOK OUR LESSONS FROM THEM, WE WOULD THINK THAT LOVE IS NOTHING MORE THAN A “FEELING” OR SOMETHING YOU FALL INTO AND OUT OF. WITH THAT MIND-SET, ONE COULD EVEN GO AS FAR AS STARTING TO EQUATE LOVE WITH LUST.

AS CHRISTIANS, WE KNOW THAT IS NOT HOW LOVE IS DEFINED.

AS BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIANS, WE KNOW THAT TRUE AGAPE LOVE IS NOT A “FEELING,” BUT AN ACTION, AN UNCONDITIONAL COMMITMENT, AND A PROMISE THAT IS NEVER BROKEN.

IF CHURCHES WOULD ADOPT THE UNCONDITIONAL MEANING OF LOVE STATED BY PAUL IN 1 CORINTHIANS 13, I BELIEVE OUR BIGGEST PROBLEM IN THE CHURCH TODAY WOULD BE A SEATING PROBLEM BECAUSE WE WOULD HAVE MORE PEOPLE THAN PEWS.

PAUL MADE AN INTERESTING CONTRAST IN EXPLAINING THE MEANING OF LOVE. HE NOT ONLY TELLS US WHAT LOVE IS TO BE, BUT ALSO WHAT IT IS NOT.

PAUL SAID THAT LOVE IS: PATIENT, KIND AND THAT IT ALWAYS TRUST, ALWAYS HOPES AND ALWAYS PERSEVERES. PAUL ALSO SAID WHAT LOVE IS NOT: LOVE IS NOT ENVIOUS, BOASTFUL, PROUD, RUDE, SELF-SEEKING, EASILY ANGERED, A RECORD KEEPER OF WRONGS, NOR DOES IT DELIGHT IN EVIL.

IF WE TAKE THIS LIST FROM PAUL IN THE LITERAL ENGLISH, WE MAY FEEL CONFIDENT THAT WE KNOW EXACTLY WHAT HE’S TALKING ABOUT. SO BE CAREFUL! PAUL HAS A DEEPER MEANING WITH THESE WORDS BEYOND LITERAL ENGLISH. LET’S TAKE A LOOK!

FIRST, LOVE IS PATIENT. THE WORD IS “MAKROTHYMEO” WHICH MEANS “SLOW TO BE RESENTFUL.” WE ARE NOT TO BE SHORT-TEMPERED OR SHORT ON PATIENCE WITH OTHERS.

ROMANS 5:8, “BUT GOD DEMONSTRATED HIS OWN LOVE FOR US IN THIS: WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS, CHRIST DIED FOR US.” WE SHOULD NEVER GIVE UP ON ANYONE. WE ARE TO LAVISH OUR LOVE ON OTHERS WITHOUT A THOUGHT WHETHER WE THINK THEY ARE WORTHY OR NOT. LOVE IS PATIENT.

SECOND, LOVE IS KIND. THE WORD “CHRESTEUOMAI” MEANS “GOODNESS.” LOVE REACTS WITH GOODNESS AND DOES NOT WALK AWAY AND SAY IN DISGUST “WELL, THEN, FORGET IT” IF THE LOVE IS NOT RETURNED OR GETS MISTREATED. KINDNESS IS A LOVE THAT GIVES ITSELF IN THE SERVICE OF OTHERS. LOVE IS KIND.

THEN PAUL MOVES ON TO WHAT LOVE IS DOES NOT DO. FIRST, LOVE DOES NOT ENVY. TRUE LOVE DOES NOT HOLD A STRONG, PASSIONATE JEALOUSY TOWARD OTHERS. IT DOES NOT BECOME DISPLEASED WITH THE SUCCESS OF OTHERS AND IT DEFINITELY DOES NOT GET INTO RIVALRIES AGAINST OTHERS.

LOVE ALSO DOES NOT BOAST. CHRIST-LIKE LOVE GIVES OF ITSELF INSTEAD OF ASSERTING ITSELF. THE LITERAL TRANSLATION SAYS THAT WE ARE NOT A “WIND BAG” OR A “SHOW OFF.”

THEN PAUL GOES ON TO SAY THAT LOVE IS NOT RUDE WHICH REALLY MEANS THAT LOVE IS NOT DISGRACEFUL OR INDECENT. TRUE LOVE WILL AVOID THAT WHICH IS TASTELESS OR VULGAR.

LOVE ALSO DOES NOT SHOW SIGNS OF BEING SELF-SEEKING. OUR EXAMPLE OF CHRIST-LIKENESS SHOULD HAVE NO EVIDENCE THAT WE ARE SELF-CENTERED OR SELFISH. LOVE IS NOT FULL OF ITS OWN SELF NOR DOES IT INSIST THAT IT GETS ITS OWN WAY.

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