The 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians is probably the most soul-searching and heart-revealing chapter in the entire Bible. Every child of God should read this chapter at least once a month to personally benefit from it.
This chapter tells us that if we had the gift of speaking like the most accomplished people, or even like the angels, and did not have love, everything would be empty and meaningless. Love is more important than the gift of prophecy, unshakable faith capable of moving mountains, or the gift of deciphering great mysteries. Without love, all this would be nothing!
It was love that moved God to devise a plan to save the world and send Jesus to the earth to carry out the plan of salvation. It was love on Jesus’ part that caused Him to lay down His life for all on the cross.
Love is also a characteristic and trait of God’s children. “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21). “By this, all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
Love is long-suffering. – It does not give up until complete victory is achieved. It does not matter how difficult the test may be. Love will persevere faithfully, for love never stops.
Love is kind. – This character trait of kindness is a proof of Christian strength. It requires true strength of character to be kind at all times and in all circumstances. The whole world is craving true human kindness. We may never be great or rich, but we can be kind. Kindness is a language that even the mute can “speak” and the deaf are able to “hear” and understand.
Love does not envy. – Love envies no one and never begrudges others for what they have. Also, love does not boast. Love will not act in a self-important way and show off in front of others. Love will also never behave in an unseemly manner. Love is not selfish and does not seek its own advantage. Love is not inconsiderate and will not seek advantage at the expense of others. Nor is love bitter when others oppose us.
Love does not presume, nor is it suspicious. – Instead of always suspecting the worst motives in others, it thinks only the best of them. It does not rejoice in the injustice of others, but helps to set the record straight. Love rejoices in truth and about the truth. Love is always ready to excuse the weaknesses of others and to overlook their shortcomings. Love always believes and assumes the best of others and is patient with all.
When love dwells in our hearts as believers, we love God with all our heart and also have the best interest of our neighbor in mind. We love our neighbor as ourselves. Yes, true love makes it possible for us to love even our enemies. Love makes life worth living, it brings true joy, and it turns night into day.
Love also seeks a way to express itself. It was Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, who poured out the precious anointing oil on Jesus’ head (see Matthew 26:7 and John 12:3). She was rebuked by some selfish people, but Jesus praised her. He acknowledged that she did it out of love for Him. Where love is the motivation for action, no transgressions are made. Jesus not only acknowledged Mary’s action, but He also said, “Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her” (Matthew 26:13). Mary did not know that she was anointing Jesus for His burial. She did not do it to gain anything for herself or to be praised by others. She did it simply out of love, and that is why Jesus appreciated it so much.
Love unites hearts. Paul writes, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).
The love of God binds the individual members of the body of Christ and causes them to hold firmly together. Love is the bond that binds them together. Where love is lost, true unity is also lost.
Love keeps us faithful and true until the end. Love enables us to weep with the weeping and rejoice with the joyful. In all circumstances of life, love strives to maintain the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace and true love.
A. P. Gregory