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What’s Love Got to Do with It? (A Study of I Corinthians 13)

Aug 06, 2018

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Hey Brother,

Recently I got a bit of constructive criticism. I was told that my blogs focused too much on lifting people up when they should be lifting up Jesus. Here’s the thing, Jesus is already at the right hand of God! I don’t think I can lift Him any higher than that! But you know who needs to be uplifted? Sinners. I can’t truly uplift them because I’m a sinner, but I can point them to the love of Jesus.

Now, “lifting up” can also mean giving glory to Jesus, which was obviously what my critic meant. But you know what? I can’t think of a better way of glorifying Jesus than by telling others that He is the ultimate source of truth, grace, and love.

That’s why we at Family Radio talk about love so often, because love is pretty much the reason for everything. Without love, nothing else matters. This isn’t my opinion; it’s directly from the Bible. So, with that in mind, let’s study I Corinthians 13 to find out what love has to do with it.

Christians often focus on spiritual gifts, prophecy, our faith, and even our own study of Scripture, but I Corinthians 13:1-3 puts the focus on love (a.k.a. charity):

  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. 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. 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.

Wow! That’s very convicting, isn’t it? Prophecy, biblical knowledge, and our faith don’t mean anything without love. It’s not all that surprising though. Jesus taught that the most important commandments were to love God and love others (Mark 12:30-31).

So, it’s now plainly obvious that love should be behind everything we do. But what is love? Our cultural upbringing, the media we consume, and even our relationships with our parents can change how we see love. We can’t rely on what we think about love; we need to see how the Bible describes the attributes of love. First Corinthians 13:4-7 tells us:

  Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself,
  is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own,
  is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
  beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

The Bible clearly shows us that love is not just a feeling or an attraction. Love requires action – action that puts others before yourself, celebrates truth, and overcomes all adversity.

Our passage then mentions one more surprising attribute of love. True, biblical love is eternal! First Corinthians 13 continues in verses 8-10:

  Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail;
  whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge,
  it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
  But when that which is perfect is come,then that which is in part shall be done away.

Isn’t that humbling? So many of the things we focus on now will just not be important in the end. Prophecies will fail. Spiritual gifts will no longer be needed. Our studies and our knowledge will seem so incomplete that when the full truth is revealed, our current knowledge will vanish. All these things are temporary, but love is eternal!

That seems crazy, doesn’t it? I know I like to rely on my intellect and knowledge a lot. You probably do too. God knows that about us, so the chapter ends with an analogy. First Corinthians 13:11-12 explains:

  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:
  but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face:
  now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

Our current knowledge and wisdom are like that of a child. When we were children, we thought we knew how the world worked. We thought we knew what we were talking about. But now, as adults, we look back at our childhood “intellect” and realize how foolish we really were. We had only experienced a small part of life, so we couldn’t possibly have a full grasp of reality. The same goes for all our knowledge and wisdom now. We only know a small part of the truth, but when we’re finally with the Lord, we’ll be in the very presence of truth.

Should we give up studying? Should we give up searching the Bible for wisdom? Absolutely not! We should read, study, and continually ask God for wisdom. But we should do it out of a desire to love God and love others more deeply, not in a vain attempt to increase our knowledge. We’ve already seen that if we have knowledge without love we are nothing, which is why the chapter ends with the following call to action:

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” I Corinthians 13:13

So, Brother, when you read our blogs or tune in to Family Radio and hear us talking about love, it’s not because we are getting soft on truth or condoning sin. Truth is important. Repenting from our sins is important. But biblical truth is found in love, and we repent from our sins and love God because He first loved us (I John 4:19). Love is at the core of everything.

Brother, what the world needs now is love, Christ’s love. His love is all you really need.

Kristopher Galuska
Family Radio Staff

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