When I was a child, I remember singing a song in Bible class that went like this “Love, Love, Love, Love… The gospel in a word is LOVE. Love thy neighbor as thy brother. Love, love, love.” The song can be found in our hymn book (#696). In I Corinthians 13 Paul the apostle speaks of how love hopes, endures, bears, and believes AND how three great things abide: faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love!
If you have read your New Testament you already know that Jesus’s words are very clear: “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Really this sentiment was echoed throughout the Old Testament as well, but it is made clearer in the New Testament. The disciples of Jesus tried to teach this to the church with the same zeal and enthusiasm. I John 3:23 says, “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” To believe in Jesus Christ is essential but the evidence of a changed life is seen when we love one another.
I Corinthians 13 is widely recognized as the “chapter of love” among Christians, but there is a deeper message within this passage of 1 Corinthians. Paul doesn’t just say we should love one another; he described love in detail then reveals why every noble thing done by a Christian (i.e. good works, giving, serving, ministry, and even martyrdom) are nothing without love as the motivation for such action. This chapter is undoubtedly crucial for Christians because, unfortunately, the English language has one word for love. The word love can be used to describe how much we love our coffee, our phone, our donuts, our pet, our favorite sports team, or our family! The point is that while the people in Bible times had many different words to describe love, Paul is compelling us to not think of the words we use, but our actions! What love produces is much more valuable to those around us than what we might think or express with our words.
Paul discusses the motivation of love and the power of love in this chapter. He hopes we will all see the need to plug-in to the power of love…God, who is the eternal source of love (I John 4:8)! Because when we truly love the Lord, we want the best for everyone, including ourselves. We will exemplify Christ by loving our God, our neighbor, and ourselves.
I love how at the end of this chapter Paul reminds us that LOVE never fails. The fact that love endures forever reminds us that it is not a feeling. Love is much deeper than that! If you are to summarize the gospel in one word it would be LOVE. If you were to summarize the Christian walk in one word it would be LOVE. If you were to summarize God’s characteristics in one word it would be LOVE. John, the beloved apostle, tells us that "God is Love" (I John 4:8). In order words, He is the embodiment of that concept. You can't talk about love, without recognizing God. Love is God and God is LOVE. Don't let Satan, or demons, or humans convince you of anything else. THE LORD.... LOVES... YOU!
God loves you! It's true! Look no further than the cross at Calvary (John 3:16). He loves you with an unwavering, jealous, and unfiltered love! Nothing you do, or say, or think, can ever change the FACT that He loves you with an unconditional love.
We also need to consider how to love others with that same authentic and genuine love. We need to love like God. John said, “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment” (I John 3:23). If you have accepted God's love, and walk in the faith, you should share love with others.
Here is the bottom line... First, know that God loves you. Second, know that God loves everyone around you. AND... Third, share the love of God with everyone you meet. Be God's hands and feet. Let's show the world the love of God! Have a GREAT week!
You are loved.
Dr. Ray Reynolds