Today we get to the famous “Love Chapter.” 1 Corinthians 13 has to be one of the best-known passages from all of Scripture, but it’s important to remember its context…
Paul has been addressing specific issues within the Corinthian church. There have been cases of division, taking fellow Christians to court, incest, sexual immorality, divorce, idolatry and other temptations.
As he addresses these various issues, Paul repeats a well-known saying from the city of Corinth, “All things are lawful.” But Paul adds the phrase, “but not all things are helpful.” Throughout his letter, Paul has pointed back to Christ’s sacrificial example and has exhorted the church to consider three things in every action and decision:
- First, consider others before yourself,
- Secondly, do nothing that will taint the message of the gospel,
- And finally, do everything to the glory of God.
I believe all of the issues within this church were rooted in pride and self-centeredness. Sure, they could prophesy and have amazing faith – but if their actions weren’t done in love, it was like a clanging cymbal…
It is within this context that Paul delivers his famous treatise on love.
- Love is patient (so don’t take your brother to court, 1 Cor. 6)
- Love is kind (so consider those who are weaker in faith, 1 Cor. 8)
- Love does not envy or boast (so quit fighting amongst yourselves, 1 Cor. 3)
- It is not arrogant or rude (so show respect to your spouse, 1 Cor. 11)
- It is not irritable or resentful (so consider everyone as a vital member of Christ’s body, 1 Cor. 12)
- It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth (so don’t turn the Lord’s supper into a drunken, gluttonous feast, 1 Cor. 11)
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Paul is calling believers to interact with one another in a way that mirrors Christ’s love toward us!!
Hear the words of Isaiah describing the deep, all-consuming love of our Messiah toward us…
The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me
because God anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace—
a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies—
and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.
Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness”
planted by God to display his glory (Isaiah 61:1-7, The Message).
May his perfect love take hold and send roots deep into our hearts so that we might reflect His love to our neighbors, our church and to our world!