Week of Sept. 23
Living by Love
First Corinthians 13 is one of the most well-known passages in the Bible. It is often quoted, yet seldom comprehended. It is routinely read at weddings but is soon forgotten.
Hollywood only shows passionate, romantic love. Friends talk about having warm feelings toward each other. Yet the type of love that Paul is describing in this passage is far greater than any emotions-based love. Agape love is a self-giving and self-sacrificing love. The focus is not on how we feel about the other person, but on how we can give of ourselves in love. Agape love has no room for pride, vanity, arrogance or selfish desires.
Without this kind of love, any accomplishment, activity, or relationship we have is in vain. Paul describes this futility of loveless action: "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
Proclaiming the Truth of God is nothing without love. Immense knowledge is worthless without love. Whatever we do—even if it is the name of God—is meaningless if it is not motivated by agape love. We are to "do everything in love" (1 Corinthians 16:14).
The Church in Corinth lost its first love for Jesus Christ. They maintained their spiritual activities but did them without love. Many people in today's church face the same problem. They have become so consumed by committees, rules, programs and personal agendas that they have forgotten about love. So many Christians today have lost their vision and mission because they do not serve in love. As Jesus rebuked the church in Ephesus, "Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love" (Revelation 2:4).
What does agape love look like? Paul tells us: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
Paul's description paints a picture of the love of Jesus Christ. He is the one against whom we are to measure ourselves. We are to love others as Christ loves us. Jesus said, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34,35).
Has your love been met by rejection? By betrayal? Has you love been met by cold indifference or by anger? Has your love been met with hatred? Has your love been met with selfishness, jealousy, and resentment? Keep loving, for only love endures forever.
Spend time in prayer today thanking God for His indescribable love. Pray for the ability to love others as Christ loves us.
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
Don't be tempted to toss in the towel and give up running the race. Shore up your confidence in God, today. Michael Youssef explores this topic in our free resource this month—"Don't Lose Your Confidence." Download it today.
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