Summary: When it comes to studying about love, it is easy to feel under the pile because no human can measure up to the standard of love in 1 Corinthians 13 - and that's because it is God's standard. Thanks be to God that he makes us able, as we give our lives, ho
If you’ve watched any spy movies lately, or paid attention to military rhetoric in the past decade, you will have heard the term “actionable intelligence.” It means that you have obtained important information that you can do something about.
Well, when it comes to love, I want to coin a term off of that for us to remember. Love is “actionable empathy.” Actionable Empathy means you are focused on another, trying to find out ways that you can act and speak that are redemptive in their lives, regardless of how they do or do not respond to you.
Couple this with two verses from chapter 10: (1 Corinthians 10:24 ) “no one should seek his own good but the good of the other person.” And (1 Corinthians 10:31 ) “Whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.”
“Actionable Empathy” means looking out for how you can help someone become more like the Lord-thus giving Him glory.
Why is love important?
It is the one commandment from Jesus
John 13:34-35 "I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.”
John echoed these words:
1 John 4:20-21 If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And we have this command from Him: the one who loves God must also love his brother.�
It is what sets you apart from the world culture of this age. Jesus said “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35 ).
It is the one thing where we have a debt
Romans 13:8-10 Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments:
You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal,
you shall not covet, and if there is any other commandment—all are summed up by this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.
Notice again that there are 8 characteristics of love where Paul uses a positive and 8 where he uses a word to tell us what love is not. Why is that? I think that in part it is because love doesn’t come naturally to us so we can more easily identify with our natural state.
Another thing to note along those lines—the flesh will fight your desire to walk in love. So don’t think this will come easily or stay easily. You must constantly be aware of the flesh’s desire to go back to its nature.
We’ve been looking at the love words (contrasting what is and what is not love) in the first five verses.
Patient—not short tempered
Kind—actions for the good of the other
Does not envy—being content with who you are and what you have so you can see clearly to help another
Does not boast—not putting others down to lift yourself up
Is not conceited—being humble (not letting the self-rationalizing mind fool you)
Does not act improperly—not being rude or humiliating others
Is not selfish—don’t seek your own advantage, but the good of others
Now we come to the next concept:
Calm – Provoked (I like to think of myself as an active minefield)
The idea here is being carried away with anger. You know how it feels when someone wrongs you. You feel that fight or flight build up as the adrenaline rushes into your system. Your mind (with help from the enemy) starts to speak the unfairness of it all into your ears.
Proverbs 15:18 A hot-tempered man stirs up conflict, but a man slow to anger calms strife.
Proverbs 29:11 A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man holds it in check.
Real other-focused love will have to endure all kinds of abuse. Just think of what they did to Jesus.
Isaiah 53:7 Like a sheep silent before her shearers, He did not open His mouth.
If we are easily provoked, we are not walking in love.
Galatians 5:13-15 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
So what is the opposite of easily provoked? Calmness. We go back to “patient” for that—not short tempered.
James 1:19-21 My dearly loved brothers, understand this: everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, 20 for man's anger does not accomplish God's righteousness.