1 Corinthians 13:4-8a — Love’s attributes!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
February 26, 2012 AM
What is love? It is a question that poets, prognosticators, and psychologists have tried to answer. Love’s theme fills hundreds of thousands of books, songs, and blogs. Tina Turner cynically sang, “Oh what’s love got to do, got to do with it? What’s love but a second hand emotion? What’s love got to do, got to do with it? Who needs a heart, when a heart can be broken?” Most contemporary songs in today’s society have reduced love to either feelings or lust, whichever fits the needs of the moment. It reflects the shallow and sometimes cynical view folks have for the meaning of love for their lives. However, if we are to understand Scripture we have to answer the question, “What is love?”
The Bible does define for us what love is. It begins with God himself when we learn “God is love.” (1 John 4:8 NIV) Love’s definition is furthered clarified when he showed what his love is all about in sending his Son. (John 3:16-18) This love of God transforms the individual from the inside out to the extent that they are changed forever in their personal relationship with him, their personal attitudes and their interactions with others. “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.” (2 Corinthians 5:14 NIV) and “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12 NIV) The problem is what does the rest of the world see when it looks at the life of a believer? Does it see the love of God revealed in us? With all the misunderstanding, negativism, and cynicism concerning love in our day and age, the question we need to answer this morning is, “What is love?” More specifically, what are love’s attributes? Let’s find out for ourselves…
READ: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
I came across the Top 10 Geeky Ways to Say “I Love You!” It comes from Wired.com and sadly, I understand every single one of them. You may not but here they are anyway:
10. “You give me so much energy I could give up caffeine.”
9. “In the software of my life, my love for you is a feature, not a bug.”
8. “My love for you is a stat, and I rolled an 18 … on three dice.”
7. “If feelings were LEGO sets, my love for you would be the Death Star.”
6. “The myth that we don’t belong together? Busted!“
5. “If I were a Vulcan, I’d go Pon Farr for you every seven minutes.”
4. “If I had to choose between you and an iPad, I’d pick you.”
3. “If I was Frodo and you were the One Ring, Middle-earth would be toast.”
2. “You’re the Konami code for the video game of my life.”
1. “You’re my 42.”
If you do not fully understand all of these, take heart you are not as geeky as you thought you were! If you want an explanation, ask the geek sitting next to you! However, in these verses…
I. We discover what love is! (Vv. 13:4, 7-8a)
1. I wanna know what love is….. I want you to show me….. (Mariah Carey)
1) All Mariah had to do was open her Bible! We discover that love is patient, or as some translations state, “long suffering.” Yet the idea is not one of patiently putting up with something or someone, but rather that of steadfast devotion. There is a serene tolerance involved whereby the believer, as Paul admonishes is to “Be completely humble and gentle; [by being] patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2 NIV) Love is also kind, again as in being “kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV) Love always protects like a covering or a bird that shelters her young with her wing, and love always trusts in its fellow man. In other words, the love a Christians displays sees the best in the other person. How in the world could love do that? Because it also always hopes in that it always sees the bright side of life even in difficult circumstances. Love is able to do this because it perseveres. It stays the course set out for it in life, it keeps on keeping on when others falter and persists when others only see failure. Love is all these wonderful things: kind, patient, protective, trusting, hopeful, and persistent! When it is, it never fails! This is what Godly love truly is!
EXAMPLE: In a morally corrupt world we see what the redefinition of love accomplishes. It focuses on self-gratification and reduces love to its basest instinct of emotional lust. Love becomes about selfish relationships, instead of the foundational truth it is supposed to be. Like the redefinition of marriage that ignores the familial outcome of emotional stability and the continuance of the human species. Contrary to the amoral selfish redefining of marriage, this is why God resoundingly condemns homosexuality. Marriage also defines who we are as male and female. Homosexuality not only swims against common biological sense, it forces itself against the foundational psychological truth of moral behavior. At its core godly love is sacrificial and is never based on what you get out of it, it is based on what change has occurred in your sinful human nature that makes you love others in spite of yourself! This why John would write, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10 NIV)
For Paul, love was more than what you can gain it flows from what you have already obtained. We have found out what love is, we also have to learn what it is not. Here in these verses…
II. We discover what love is not! (Vv. 13:4b-6)
1. If this isn’t love, tell me what it is! (Jennifer Hudson)
1) Jennifer should know that love is more than losing weight! Love does not envy, it does not boast, and it is not proud. It does not stoop to petty jealousy or green-eyed behavior. It does not care about what others have or obtained, but rather rejoices with another’s success! Nor does it brag about itself to others, but rather it knows its place. Therefore it does not puff itself up in the eyes of others, like a gangsta thug or short-term sports hero, for its own gain. In a world where being crude and sarcastic has reached all time new lows, the love a Christian shows is not to be rude or crass. Godly love never seeks the lowest common denominator, it has high standards. It does for others rather than for itself, never seeking its own desires first. It keeps a lid on its anger and in so doing it does not keep track of the wrong others have done to it. And unlike the world, who knows “God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, [and] they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them”, (Romans 1:32 NIV) love “does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” of God! Notice anything about the picture painted here of what love is not? The love of God as expressed in the lives of believers is to be nothing like what the world offers. That’s why the world does not understand it nor does it understand Christ or Christianity. In Christ we discover what love is not.
EXAMPLE: I always laugh when the world tries to define what Christianity is for us. Recently Presidential candidate Senator Rick Santorum was bludgeoned by the mainstream media for a comment he made concerning President Obama’s extreme environmental views. They tried desperately to persuade listeners to think Santorum was making a comment about the President’s faith. No one who actually heard the comment in its context could make such an absurd conclusion. Santorum was speaking about the President’s theology of radical environmentalism. Contrary to what the media would try to persuade you to believe, Christianity is not based on what we feel about Jesus, it is based on what Jesus taught and at its core is the fact that a person can only claim being a Christian after they have confessed their sinful condition and placed their faith and trust in Christ himself. Like societies redefinition of love, the Christian faith is not based on selfish emotionalism. And this morning, we have learned from Paul what love is not.
We have discovered what love is and we discovered what love is not!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 25 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.