We return once again tonight to our study of love. We read from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians –
1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
I. The Necessity of Love
First we have considered the necessity of love. The first three verses may be summarized by saying – Christianity without this kind of love, really isn’t Christianity at all.
Then we begin to examine the nature of love.
II. The Nature of Love
1 Corinthians 13:4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up…
A. Love is Patient
Patience is an inward characteristic that enables us to endure with those who are difficult. The KJV translates it as ‘longsuffering’ which is a good translation because this particular word refers to be long-tempered, as opposed to being quick tempered. We are willing to suffer for a long time with someone because we love them.
B. Love is Kind
Complementary to the inward character of patience is the outward character of kindness. The word here refers to a benevolent spirit towards someone one. We not only put up with them, we want to reach out to them to help them. Why?; because we love them.
C. Love Is Not Envious
The kind of love we are studying here is ‘selfless’ as opposed to be ‘selfish.’ It does not envy what another has or what they are able to achieve. It does not parade itself around in front of others. It is not puffed up with personal pride. It is humble. This is best described in Philippians 2 –
Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant…
D. Love Is Not Rude
1 Corinthians 13:5 Doth not behave itself unseemly…
The NASB says – “Does not act unbecomingly…” The NIV translates it as – “It is not rude”
Albert Barnes wrote in his commentary on this passage that agape love has a proper respect of superiors, and a proper regard for inferiors. Noted author and Bible teacher, Charles Hodge wrote – “Love does nothing of which one ought to be ashamed.” Others have written – “Love does not act in a way that shows dishonor to others.” “Love always has good manners and tactfully shows courtesy, politeness and sensitivity to other’s feelings.”
Paul touched on this issue in his letter to the Ephesians –
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers
The word ‘corrupt’ refers to something that is useless or rotten and to be thrown away. Paul writes about Christian love –
1 Corinthians 13:5 Doth not behave itself unseemly…
1. Ways We Can Be Dishonoring of Others
a) By Being Harsh With Them
The NIV says – “Love is not rude.” Richard DeHaan, of Radio Bible Class gives a great example of being rude.
“In the early years of our marriage, my wife Margaret lovingly reminded me on occasions about my tendency to express my opinions a little too emphatically.
In my enthusiasm to make a point, I was inclined to speak loudly and with great animation. As a result, I often appeared to be angry when actually I was not.”
“We as Christians ought to be so sensitive to the needs, hurts, and disappointments of others that no unkind words come from our lips and no harsh tone is heard in our voices— even when we find it necessary to be firm.” Richard DeHaan, Our Daily Bread, Feb 2, 1999
G. Campbell Morgan, in his commentary ‘The Corinthian Letters of Paul’ writes –
Love is always polite. Love is always courteous. It is not rough and blunt and brutal. It does not go about saying ugly things and calling a spade a spade. Love does not do that kind of thing.
I’m not sure where I got this but it says it well – “As followers of Christ we are to be compassionately in their place rather than brazenly in their face.”
b) By Belittling Them
Proverbs 11:9 An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbor…
Proverbs 11:12 He that is void of wisdom – despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.
The word ‘despiseth’ means to hold as being insignificant. We read also –
Proverbs 11:13 A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.
The Bible speaks very clearly about looking down upon others. Consider what James writes –
James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
‘With respect of persons’ means to show partiality and favoritism towards those we like, as well as discrimination towards those we don’t. The Bible says that God is ‘no respecter of persons.’ (Acts 10:34 – same Greek word)
2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? 5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? 6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? 7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? 8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
2. Ways We Can Honor Others
Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
One of my favorite Bible resources is the commentary of John Gill who lived during the early 1800’s. He suggests six ways we can show honor to others:
1. Saints should think honorably of each other
2. Saints should hold each other in a position higher than themselves
3. Saints should speak honorably of each other
4. Saints should discourage whisperings and backbiting
5. Saints should treat each other with honor and respect
6. Saints should go before each other in the matter of giving honor, not waiting until respect is shown on one side to return it again.