The Crescendo of Love
1 Corinthians 13 is about the crescendo of love’s primacy, perfection, and permanence. That love is supreme enough to solve this or any other church’s problems. The Corinthian problem was that love was lethargic, even lifeless so that pride, abuse, misapplying what God had given, and the sin of personal agendas and the escalations of hurt ran amuck, stagnating and even dissolving this once great church. All they needed was gratitude to our Lord; and then faith, hope, and love could flow from God through them to those around them. This would have filled in the wounds of hurt and reconciled the damages to relationships. The problem was not about who had what gifts and positions or whose ideas were best, but that love was absent and other things were distorting and distracting them from God’s plan and precepts so that the result was disorder. For the first century Greek, wisdom was found in mere knowledge; for a pious Jew, faith and hope were the essences of what true wealth from God meant. Paul’s point was that the more you know, the better you are in His sight, but better yet is that particle of godly knowledge. For knowledge alone could produce arrogance and the lack of desire to apply His truth. The more we learn about Christ, the better we can know Him so we can model, teach, and worship Him—as long as our pride does not get in the way. If we just remove the arrogance, then the indifference starts to disappear; hope appears, and faith, works, and love abound to replace those hurts and fears with the “greatest” of these (1 Cor. 14; 1 Thess. 5:19-20).
God’s love is amazing when we consider how we are and who He is! We do not deserve His love, yet we receive it anyway. We do not earn it or achieve it or merit it in any way whatsoever, yet it is there for our taking because of what Christ has done on our behalf. It is a fruit of faith and shows our authenticity, which allows us to serve. It lives in the present as it looks outward to others. Love comes from the self-sacrifice of our Lord, who paved the way for our relationships, especially to God; we must respond gratefully to our fellow believers (John 3:16; 6:37, 44, 65;13:1; 15:16; Rom. 5:1-8; 1 Cor. 13; Eph. 1:4-5; Phil. 1:6; Col. 1:1-8, 21-22; 2:10; James 2:14; 1 John 3:14; 4:9-11)!
Love is the greatest. God is not faith; God is not hope. Love is the greatest because God is love; it is His character and the aspect of His being! Love is also the greatest virtue, character, and fruit that points to our Lord’s grace and identifies us as His ambassadors; it shows how we as His children must be to one another. It is the foundation and structure upon which all that is good leans and is united upon. (John 13:34-35; Rom. 5:5; 2 Cor. 5:20; 1 John 4:8-19)
A love that is great means that we have a love from God that in turn must be our pattern and plan for all we are and do. If love is to be great in us, as it is by what Christ has given us, it must take us beyond our self-interests. If not, all that remained in us would be lust or envy and not real love! Then, as the passage starts off with, all we are would be just an annoying noise that had no reason or purpose. Love is the greatest because out of true love, God the Father gave us His Son, and the Son gave us His life as a replacement for ours. The Son sent the Spirit to us, and we should be literally overwhelmed and consumed with extreme joy and gratitude by what God has done for us. Then in turn, we can pass this love on to others.
Questions to Ponder
From this study series in love, what have you found that is missing and what do you and others need that you can emulate and impart?
Take a look at each of the aspects of Love in this 1 Corinthians 13 passage; now, replace the word "love" with "Jesus!" For example…Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind…; what does this do for you? How does this give you a glimpse into His character? How does this motivate you to be His vibrant display?
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