Summary: If you think you understand what real love is, think again. 1 Corinthians 13 is not a bunch of feel goodisms, but delves deeply into the character of a mature person in Christ. Are you ready?
We began last week looking at Paul showing the Corinthians how much they had missed the real character of God by wanting to be “spiritual” over being loving. In the first three verses Paul tells us that no matter how impressive we are with our spiritual credentials, knowledge, power, or gifts—it is meaningless unless we have the character of God’s love flowing in and through us.
Love in the end is really not about us at all, but is about relationships—with God first, and then with others, as Jesus said in the Shema for us to love the Lord with everything we have and our neighbors as ourselves.
Love, then is described by 8 things it is and 8 things it is not. We started the list of things which give definition to love by the word “patience” which means “not short tempered.” As we find ourselves becoming “testy” when God doesn’t operate like we want, or become irritated when others don’t live up to our expectations, we are not operating in love.
Now we move to the second word: Kindness. Kindness is the shoe leather of patience. When we think in a redemptive fashion towards others, rather than a judgmental attitude, we begin to think about how we can act in a way that will help them to become closer to Jesus and share His character, and that’s where kindness comes into play.
Kind – Unmoved
The word “kind” is used only here, but comes from a root that means “to be employed.” The word means to show yourself useful. How is this characteristic of love? Love looks out for the needs of others.
Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
How are we not being “useful” to God? One way is when we close off our heart to His desire to work in us or when we turn away from wanting to think, speak, and act like Him to go our own way.
We are unkind towards others when we are unmoved by the plight their, and I’m not just talking about doing acts of charity. I think that when we see someone else hurting and refuse to comfort, we are being unkind. When someone is struggling and we turn away because it’s just too much work we are not being “useful” to God.
So, in conclusion, these first two love-words are about attitudes and responses. If we want to be filled with God’s character then we need to have the same attitude God has towards us that (Rom 5:10 ) “while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son”
God looks out for our interests and waits patiently for us to turn to Him and He is always working redemptively in our lives—would we do the same in our relationship with God and with those around us!
Content – Envious (interested in getting more and getting what you have)
Envy is wanting to be like someone else or have what someone else has. This was especially true for the Corinthians when it came to spiritual gifts. They were so worried about having the better gift that all they could focus on was themselves. As we discussed earlier, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not for us to be blessed, but for God to use us to bless others.
The problem with envy, or lust, is that is 1) takes something from someone else, 2) may not be what God wants for you and 3) puts the focus so much on you that you forget that it’s about blessings other, thus defeating God’s purpose.
This is where envy leads:
Titus 3 :3 For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, captives of various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another.
Instead we should adopt the attitude of Paul:
Philippians 4:12-13 I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. 13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.
It’s like the current saying “there’s an app for that.” Anything you need God to do that will further His kingdom and bring Him glory He can do. If He isn’t doing it, then don’t sweat it!
Modest – Boastful (interested in who or what I know or can do or have)
Psalms 10:3 For the wicked one boasts about his own cravings;