Exalting God, Edifying Believers, Evangelizing the Lost

What Love Is and Is Not

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  08/02/20

Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.

While 1 Corinthians 13—the passage about love—is well-known, the chapter can only be properly understood when we read the love chapter in light of what came before it and what comes after it. Both chapters 12 and 14 deal with the proper role and use of spiritual gifts, and the chapter between them reminds us of the big picture: Love is the point! The spiritual gifts God gives to Christians are to be exercised in love, so Paul shows us what that love actually looks like.

Love is patient and kind, neither envying nor boasting. It is not self-seeking but self-denying. Biblical love requires something of us. Actually, it demands our all—for true love is the way of the cross (see John 15:12-13). Dying to self means that we keep no record of wrongs; it means that we forgive until we lose count, for this is how Jesus deals with us. We are recipients of an astounding love, and it is God Himself who empowers us to then pour out this love to others as we submit to the leading of His Holy Spirit.

It’s easy to tell someone that you love them, but love is only truly expressed when you die to yourself. Can you die to your opinions? Can you die to your possessions? Can you die to your feelings? That determines true love for another.

Finally, love also has no expiration date. Men and women who love Jesus will love one another for eternity. Paul wrote, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Why is love the greatest? Because in God’s presence, there will be no need for faith; we will see our Savior face to face. Likewise, there will be no need of hope, for all our hopes will have been realized. But love—love will echo on into eternity. Love will be given and received, and it will grow for ages and ages to come. God has given us the local church so we can start practicing this eternal pastime right here and now. So let’s eagerly desire this greatest gift as Paul exhorts us (see 1 Corinthians 12:31). And let’s ask the Lord to work in our hearts to bring this precious fruit to bear so that it is the underlying motivation for everything we do.

Prayer: Jesus, I see that love truly is the greatest gift. Work this gift in me by Your Holy Spirit that I may obey Your will, bless others, and be blessed myself with the joy and peace that love brings. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

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