You may have authentic faith if… you overflow with love actions (1 Corinthians 13).
Welcome to Day Three of our series of “You may have authentic faith if …” Today, I will talk about love. Not the romantic type of love that is broadcast throughout all forms of our media today. The type of love that I will discuss is the God-kind of love or the Greek word is agape. It is the love we, as Christians, must have for one another, no matter if they are a believer or not.
1 Corinthians 13 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. I have preached on the subject of love many times and I have used it many times to get my point across. Of the few chapters in the Bible that pertain to the subject of love, this chapter is the foundation for love.
1 Corinthians 13 is also the most misinterpreted and misapplication chapter in the Bible. As people misunderstand the message that Paul wrote to the members of the church in Corinth, it was not applied in their lives very well. So, for the sake of being misunderstood, let me break down this chapter into three sections, enriching, edifying, and enduring.
Love is Enriching – 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
In these first three verses, Paul names five essential spiritual gifts of tongues, prophecy, knowledge, faith, and giving. You can communicate in all languages, have prophetic powers, give everything you own to the poor and give your body for the ultimate sacrifice, but if you do not have love, it will mean nothing!
As Christians, we are taught to show the God-kind of love or agape. We are to show love to one another (1 Thessalonians 4:9) no matter how you feel about that person. In 1 John 4:19, God taught us how to love by sending His Son to die for us. Jesus enhances the teaching of love by the example of giving His life and commanding us to use our lives for the benefit of others in the same way He did (John 13:34-35).
Therefore, enriching is improving and enhancing. Love does just that, improves, enhances your spiritual gifts. What a blessing you will become by showing love along with your spiritual gifts.
Love is Edifying – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Another word for edifying is teaching. Paul teaches love must have the following qualities of patient, kind, not envying or boasting, not proud or arrogant. Never rude, not insisting on having its own way, not resentful, and should never keep a record of any wrongdoings. We should not dwell on our thoughts about what others have done to us.
Love bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things. Love does not fail. If you are failing in love, you need to take a good look at yourself and conduct an honest evaluation. Love is the first of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Without love, the rest of the fruit will not exist. There will be no joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control without love.
I enjoy reading 1 John to see how the Spirit inspired him to write about God’s love for us and how we should love one another. You cannot say you love God and hate one another. Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39).
Love is Enduring – 1 Corinthians 13:8-13
Three of the spiritual gifts at the start of this chapter, prophecy, knowledge, and tongues, are not permanent. They will eventually fade away, but love endures or prevails forever. Why? Because in heaven, those things are not necessary. Agape or the God-kind of love never fades or dies.
Paul shifts his thoughts in a contrast between thinking like a child and an adult. There must be a time that we put away childish things (v. 11) and start maturing as Christians and as the church. We do this by love. Children will live for temporary things such as toys. Once they played with that toy long enough, they will put it away, and find another toy to play with. Adults live for permanent things that will help them mature because it comes through love and love will always prevail.
Paul ends this chapter with three Christian graces that will prevail, faith, hope, and love. Faith will eventually become sight beyond what is sees in the natural. Hope will be fulfilled, but love is the greatest of these three because love strengthens faith and hope.
If you want to know and understand the agape or God-kind of love, read 1 Corinthians 13 in its entirety a few times to get it down in your heart. As God told Joshua to meditate on it day and night and you will prosper and good success (Joshua 1:8). Amen!
I am Dale Van De Bogart and I approve of this message!
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