1 Corinthians 13: 6-7
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Today we have a continuation of the 1 Corinthians 13 Series; but in these verses, the focus shifts from “attributes” into “actions”. We find here that love “does” something. It is not only a noun … but has become a verb!
Love does not delight in evil:Love seeks good. It refrains from unrighteousness or sinful conduct of any kind. It desires holiness within us and around us. Love is sanctification personified … if you will.
Love rejoices with the truth:Love finds joy in what is honest and sincere. The Word of God is truth (Cf. John 17:17); and the love of God is inherent in and expressed through His Word. We rejoice with the truth because it defines how our hearts have been changed by the Spirit of God….
Love always protects:Love does not harm another human being. It respects all life and desires to preserve the sanctity of each soul created by God at all times.
Love always trusts:Love seeks the best in others. It gives people the benefit of the doubt … it refrains from judgment and condemnation. It believes in the ultimate good God will produce in and through His people. Love is the confidence we have in God to work all things for the good of those who love Him. (Cf. Romans 8:28)
Love always hopes:Love is the eternal optimist. Again, it believes in the sovereignty and mercy of God to bring people to faith in Jesus Christ. In Scripture we find the hope of glory; the hope of eternal life; the hope of salvation; the hope of the resurrection; the hope the Second Coming. It is love of God that cultivates and drives hope within our hearts.
Love always perseveres:Love endures all things. In this context, love motivates our hearts to resist and persevere under temptation and testing. Love is our power to do so!
Paul will conclude this passage with the statement: “Love never fails!” If we will examine each attribute … each action … each demonstration of love as defined and manifested by God to us, I believe we would join Paul in this conclusion. If love would consume our hearts … formulate our thoughts … fill our desires … and direct our passion for service … what kind of relationships would we have with one another? What unity would ensue among us? What glory would accrue to God?
We have only scratched the surface of examining what drives the passion and power of God within us in order to fulfill His plan and purpose for creation! I want us to look at the inspired writing of the Apostle John that will drive this point home … that will explain how God wants the fullness of His love completed in us and through us in the world:
1 John 4:7-21 (ESV)
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. 13 This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 19 We love because He first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
The Apostle John is quite adamant: God wants His love to be perfected or completed in us! God wants the love He has demonstrated to us to be fulfilled in others through our own lives. Think about it as a wedding band or a “circle of love”. We know love begins with God. We know there is a moment when we are brought to God through His Son. We know a personal relationship is formed and we are united in love (i.e. God in us and we in Him). This is when the love of God is continued through us. This is the place where love becomes eternal … and life in Him becomes eternal! There is no beginning or ending in Him. Like a ring, there is only the continuous “now”. Oh, how I pray that we could fully grasp how God desires us to love one another as He has loved us!
What the Apostle John imparts to us in spiritual terms in 1 John 4; Paul explains to us in practical (physical) terms in 1 Corinthians 13. In other words, if you or I find ourselves struggling with how the spiritual “attributes” of love are manifesting in our physical lives (through demonstrable action); then perhaps we need to re-explore the love of God in all of its fullness. Perhaps we need to re-visit the cross … to re-evaluate our hearts … to re-examine the depth of our faith … or to re-charge our devotion to Jesus Christ. Perhaps we need to “re-set our mindset” in how we endeavor to love others with the genuine passion that God extends through His love to us….
With the barrage of verses focused on “love” this past week, I truly believe the Holy Spirit desires to challenge us and our obedience to the command to “love one another”. If we profess to love God but only pretend to love others; how will the love of God truly be perfected (or completed) in us? To me, there is no ambiguity on what is required or the instruction we have been given through the Word of God. The question is whether we will passionately desire to show the love of God to others as He created us in Christ Jesus to accomplish. We have been given the “what” and why” of love by John. We have been given the “where” and “how” of love by Paul. The “who” of love is other people … and the “when” is the “circular now”! So let us find the “will” to love one another … to do so as the Body of Christ in this world … and to demonstrate the unity of faith through the gifts determined and distributed to us by the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I am impressed to remind us that we will all stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ. Will you or I stand in fear? John affirmed, “Whoever abides in love abides in God and God abides in him. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment – in this world we are like Jesus! See! We are admonished to be conformed to the image of Christ … to be like Him … yes, to “be” Him in the world. This is the role … this is the mission of the Church. We are commissioned to “be” the love of God to the lost! Or as Paul stated, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ … God making His appeal (to the world) through us…. (Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:20) We are to implore people … intentionally but graciously urge them on behalf of our Lord Jesus to be reconciled to God through Him. This is how love fulfills the will of God … the will of Him who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (Cf. 1 Timothy 2:4)