True Biblical Love in Action

1 Corinthians 13:1-7

by Cooper Abrams

    Introduction: The most comprehensive description of love is found in 1 Corinthians 13:1-7. Paul explains to us the practical side of "agape" love. That is the love that God shows to us. It is a love that is shown in how it responds to life's challenges and more importantly how we live our lives day by day. The passage does not focus so much upon what love is, but upon what love does and does not do.

               The context of the passage is explaining the misuse and misunderstanding of spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts are those talents and abilities that God gives a believer to carry out His will in their lives. Any time you have an ability or talent and use it there is the possibility of its misuse. There is possibility of having experiencing pride and doing good things for the wrong motives.

               God is not so much interested in what we do, but why we do it.

               It deals with our service for the Lord and examines our motives for why we serve. It shines the light of truth on what we outwardly see if it is a work of the flesh or of God. Do we serve to be seen of men....or to serve the Lord. It what we do to be seen of men....or to honor our Savior by being a testimony to righteousness.

      1. Agape love is active, not abstract or passive. It does not simply "feel patient." It is patient! It practices patience. It does not simply have kind feelings. It does kind things.

      Love is fully love only when it acts! This passage removes all exposes each of us to the most stringent possible going to one's very heart and exposing what is really there. Each of us are master's at hiding what is in the deepest recesses of our hearts.....from each other. But we cannot hide these things from our omniscience God. Here through His word He opens the doors so we can see ourselves as we truly are.

      2. Scripture tells us, "My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth" (1 John 3:18). The purpose 1 Corinthians 13 is not to give a "technical analysis" of love, but to break it down into "bite size" pieces so that we may more easily understand it and apply it in a practical way.

               Thus, our goal should be to demonstrate this kind of love one to another. It tells us clearly that where these attributes and motives are...there is also the true love of God. Sadly, the opposite is also true. This passage is God's wake up call to those who find themselves lacking. It is God reaching out to us to change our lives and make us truly what He has purposed for us to be.

    I. God gives us a list of good things that can be done for the wrong reasons. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Verse 1-3 give us a list of commendable things we would certainly admire in a child of God, but God qualifies them for us. He says if they are done for the wrong reason they do not please Him.....they are nothing. They will receive no reward, and God cannot bless or be apart of such things.

      A. Speaking with the tongues of men and angels without "agape" love is worthless. V1 Speaking with eloquence is greatly admired among men. Men with commanding voices are listened to. If what we say would be on par with God's angels in heaven and be not said in is as sound brass and tinkling cymbal. It amounts to nothing.

      B. Sounding brass and tinkling cymbals make a sound and it is heard for a moment...but then it is gone. It leaves no lasting effect. This is the point of the phrase, there is nothing that remains. Further, if all you hear is these two sounds and you hear them repeatedly they can become irritating and annoying.

      C. We can become great students of the Bible, a scholar no less, and show great faith, but we have not love in our hearts we are nothing..... We go back to verse 1.... We make sounds, but they are empty and do not last. V2

      D. If we give everything we have to the will impress people, it will make us outwardly look like really wonderful people, but we are not changed is worthless as far as having any effect on us, or on honoring the Lord. You see what pleases the Lord is what is in our hearts and why we serve. It pleases God when we have the same love in our hearts as He has...we then are like him and show forth His love and who He is. His plan is that we be like Him.

        1. Even if we are martyred for the sake of Christ....standing firm upon the word of God, contending for the faith and are persecuted and burned at the stake.....and if our motives are wrong, if we do it not for the love of Christ and the love of others nothing is grained.

        2. It does not please God unless our hearts are right we Him. Do you believe that people can do outward good works and look good, but be out of God's will? The sad answer is yes....oh yes and here God is telling us that.

        3. The Corinthians were using their gifts....but God was not in it. Their motives for service, for preaching, even giving their testimonies came from pride, not a love of Christ and a love of others.

        4. May I make this clear.....listen intensely to what I am about to what God wants each of us to know.

        The love of Christ and the love of others are synonymous. That is what this passage is saying. The are one. God is love...and God's love is towards others. Man's love can be for satisfy the can be selfish.

        God then explain to us the difference between service for outward gain and biblical service done in love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

        We can do a lot of hand shaking, some do a lot of hugging. These things expression of caring, but love is a lot more than this. There is nothing wrong with outward expression of friendship and caring, they are good and give us a good feeling...but biblical love is more that outward expressions of caring.

    II. Let us look at what God says is true love.

      A. Biblical Love is is longsuffering (vs. 4)

        The word "patient" literally means "long tempered." This word is common in the New Testament, and it is used almost exclusively in being patient with people. Being patient means one is not quick to get angry....or to take offense.

        Loving patience is the ability to allow ourselves to be inconvenienced or taken advantage of by a person over and over again. Steven's last words were those of patient forgiveness: "Lord, do not hold this sin against them . . ." (Acts 7:60). This is true biblical love. As he lay dying, his concern was for the murderers rather than for himself.

        This is the love that Jesus speaks of that "turns the other cheek." Its primary concern is for the welfare of others, not itself. It is a love as Christ showed in His crucifixion. Before He was crucified and paid our sin debt, He was unjustly arrested and illegally tried before four courts. He was condemned, yet even Pilate the Roman governor who turned Him over to the soldiers to be crucified said he found no fault in him. Yet, the Lord Jesus bore all the terrible suffering and pain.....He was perfect in every way, being God incarnate in flesh. Yet, His love of you and I He did not lash out...though He could have destroyed them all...He allowed them to treat Him so terribly....why because He loves us...that's why.

        Think with me.....we all have lashed out at others who hurt us at some time. We all have been critical and quick to respond when we think someone has done us wrong.

        Let me see a show of hands of those who have lashed out and that it accomplished good! Did it correct the problem? Did it help the person who offended us to overcome their fault? Did it set a good example and show an erring brother/sister the way of Christ. Did is show others that you were a loving person and that a child of God? I think the answer is obvious.

        Philippians 2:3-4 says, "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others."

      ILLUS: One of Abraham Lincoln's most outspoken political enemies was a man named Edwin J. Stanton. Stanton called Lincoln a "low cunning clown" and the "original gorilla". He even said this, "It is ridiculous for people to go to Africa to see a gorilla, when they could find one easily in Springfield, Illinois." To Lincoln's credit, he never responded to these insults. Yet, when he was elected President, Lincoln chose Stanton to be his Secretary of War. When asked why, Lincoln said, "Because he is the best man!" Later, when Lincoln had been assassinated, Stanton stood by the coffin which contained Lincoln's body and said through his tears, "There lies the greatest ruler of men the world has ever seen." Patient love in action won this man over in the end!

        If that instruction from God was you think there would be conflicts within churches? If each of us esteems the other as better than ourselves....what could possibility be the source of conflict?

        How different this is from the secular thinking of our day, where everyone wants "their rights." The slogan of the day is, "What about my needs?" or " I demand my rights." We declare we are right....and that is the only way it could be. Often we refuse to look at ourselves and cast the log out of our eyes, before we try to remove the little mote out of someone else's eye. If our attitude is not correct we don't forgive anymore, we seek to get revenge. We are quick to sue others. The biblical love that we are to have for others is the direct opposite of these things.

      B. Biblical Love is kind... (vs. 4)

        Just as patience will take abuse from others, kindness will give anything to others. To be kind means to be useful, serving and gracious. It is active goodwill. It not only feels generous; it is generous. It not only desires others' welfare; it works for it. God is our supreme model in this: "Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience? Not knowing that the kindness (goodness) of God leads you to repentance?" (Romans 2:4).

        It is not an act of love or kindness to look for the fault in others nor point out their failures. If a person does something we think is is not love that puts a negative spin on it rather than a positive one.

          ILLUS: The story is told that a father scolded his little daughter Emma for using the expensive paper to wrap an old shoe box. The next morning, she came carrying the poorly wrapped present to her father wishing him a Happy Father's Day. Ashamed of his behavior, he proceeded to open the present only to find the box was empty. Father became very upset and harshly explained that you don't give presents that are empty. With a tear flowing down her little cheek, Emma hurriedly declared the box wasn't empty. That she had spent all day blowing kisses into the box just for him. Needless to say, father was humbled by her little face and apologized as he embraced his little girl. The old shoe box was guarded and cherished till father's death. Emma found the shoe box tucked away in father's closet and inside was a note......"Emma, for every kiss I've removed from this box of love, I've replaced with my kiss for you, my precious little girl."

        C. Biblical Love does not envy... (vs.4)

          This is the first of eight negative descriptions of what love is not. There are two kinds of jealousy:

          1. We want what someone else has. If they have a better car, house, job, or even wife or husband, we secretly wish that we had the same.

          2. We wish that someone else didn't have what they had. We often resent what others have. This is more than just selfishness; it is desiring evil for someone else. There will always be someone out there doing better than you. You can either live with it and "be content with such things that you have," or you can be eaten up with jealousy. James 3:14-18 warns:

            "But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."

        D. Biblical Love does not vaunteth itself nor is puffed does not parade itself in front of others. (vs. 4)

          In other words, love does not brag or "parade" its accomplishments. Bragging is the other side of jealousy. Jealousy is wanting what someone else has; bragging is trying to make others jealous of what we have. Love does not remind a person of the great "sacrifice" you have made for them.

          It is trying to show we are more spiritual than someone else...that is what the Pharisees did. We don't do this or that and that makes us spiritual? We look down on others....with a judgmental spirit. I have often heard people with this negative attitude express their superiority. They proudly state, they don't wear jeans, or don't wear their hair a certain way, doesn't celebrate Christmas because it is a pagan holiday... and on and on they go explaining how much better they are.....all the while harboring bitterness and an having an unforgiving heart....

        E. Biblical Love does not behave unseemly, with means rudely . . . (v. 5)

          True love has manners. That is something that is largely lost today. But love cares about others and is mannerly. True love is not gives the benefit of the seeks peace instead of putting others in their place with rudeness.

          Can you see how all this ties together? If the love of Christ is in a person's heart they will be longsuffering, they will be kind and not envy another. Where Christ lives in the heart the person does not uplift himself in pride, and does not act rudely to others.

          How many times have you and I acted rudely to someone and it had a good result? If we simply applied these simple principles in our lives what a transformation there we be inside us and among those around us!

        F. Biblical Love does not seek its own . . . (v. 5)

          This speaks of that aspect of the fallen nature where we always want "to have our way." The world should revolve around us, we think. Often those who accuse others of not being loving are themselves very selfish.

          ILLUS: Once in a church a pastored there was a man who would come into the service, god directly to his seat, never look up, rarely shake anyone's hand, and sort of grunt a response when someone said good morning or greeted him. In time he left the church complaining to others that the church was not friendly!!

          Most times people who digress into the state see themselves as right and will not concede they have any faults of their own. They act like they think they were put on earth to correct everyone else. Yet, in reality, they are seeking their own interests and are not really interested in others. They think themselves something special because they can see the faults in others.

          Wouldn't it be so much better to reach out to be like the "make a wish foundation." Seeking to fulfill others dreams and desires..... What joy we get out of seeing others happy and see their needs fulfilled.

        G. Biblical Love is not provoked . . . (v. 5)
          To provoke means "to arouse anger, a convulsion or sudden outburst." Biblical love guards against being irritated, upset, or angered by things said or done against it. Ephesians 4:26 reminds us not to allow the sun to go down on our wrath. The word "wrath" means our "rage."

          It is love that provokes others to anger? And what is the benefit of provocation? Does it not just cause more hurt, hard feelings. How can their be any reconciliation where there is provocation?

        H. Biblical Love thinks no evil. . . (v. 5)

          This means that you do not "take things into account." It comes from a bookkeeping term that means "to calculate; enter into a ledger a permanent record that can be consulted when needed." The love of Christ if in a person's heart will not judge all they do with a critical eye..... It will not seek to find fault....a reason to criticize.... It will forgive.....and not seek opportunities to criticize or bring up past failures. Forgiveness is the only way to remove past hurts from our lives. It does not harbor the hurt that others do to us, but graciously forgives and holds no grudge.

          Past hurts are like stains. Even a small stain on something mars its appearance. That is why some many companies make stain removers of all kinds. It is not great when we have a stain on something and we are able to use a cleaner to remove it? It restores the item to its beauty once again. A love based forgiveness is God's stain remover. It can restore our peace, joy and fellowship with others, even when we think they have hurt us.

          The love of Christ seeks to bring show love and think the best of others...

        I. Biblical Love believes all things . . . (v. 7)

          In other words, love believes the best of every person. It is not suspicious or cynical. If a person is accused of something wrong, love will consider him or her innocent until proven guilty. You will stick up for your brother! And even if they are guilty it will extend love to help that person overcome their failure. What a wonderful thing it is to know when you are accused falsely, when you are criticized, belittled, and put down that a brother or sister stands up for you....

          That is what biblical love stands by a brother or sister.

        J. Bible Love endures all things . . . (v. 7)

          It refuses to give up, surrender, stop believing or hoping. No matter how ugly or how humiliating the attack....the love of Christ in one's heart stops the desire to fight back, to lash out and to seek vengeance. It keeps the door open and prays for God's turns the outer cheek. Oh, yes the tears will flow, the hurt will swell up inside till we think it will kill us...but biblical love is not overcome.

        K. Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
          Love will simply not stop loving.


        1. You see God is the One who is love and He tells us what is true love. What a wonderful thing it is to love others. To be a peace with others. A person who truly loves cannot be easily hurt, will rarely ever get bitter and will not criticize others. The see the business of being forgiving as their privilege in Christ children of God.

        2. May God help us to apply these godly principles in our lives and be loving Christians, and therefore may this we here continue be a loving Church.

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