1Co 13:1-8 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. 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; (6) Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth....
Last week we began to look at what true Christian love is. We saw that the Apostle Paul stated, “For you, I will gladly spend and be spent; though the more I love, the less I am loved”. We saw that true Christian love is an action. It is proactive, and not reactive. We also learned, that if we are being filled and satisfied with God’s love for us, we are then able to love others unconditionally. Today we will start examining what this Agape, or God’s kind of love, looks like by going through 1 Corinthians 13.
Sandwiched in between a chapter on the spiritual gifts and a chapter on the use of tongues in the church service, is this chapter on love. Why? Because the Corinthians were not using their gifts to edify and love others; they were using them for self promotion and self glorification. Paul wanted to encourage them to use the gifts properly, and he did it by teaching them that all the gifts in the world are worthless if you don’t use them motivated by God’s kind of love. In 1Cor. 13:1-3, he says that if a Christian speaks in the tongues of men or angels, knows all mysteries and has all faith, gives away all he has to feed the poor, and even gives his life for another - it means nothing if it is not motivated by God’s kind of love. This is an important lesson for us to learn.
Heart motivation means more than action. Yes, actions are important (faith without works is dead), but God looks on the heart. Why you do what you do is more important than just what you do. Obviously, by these verses, we can deduct that great actions can be done for wrong motives. This is why Paul goes on to describe what true love, God’s kind of love, is. What it really looks like.
The first characteristic of God’s kind of love is long suffering. To suffer long means to patiently endure. It means to refrain from hasty action. It means to bear long with. Paul begged the church at Ephesus to be long suffering and bear one another in love (Eph 4:1-2). He instructed the Colossians to live out mercy, humbleness of mind, meekness, and longsuffering (Col 3:12). He told Pastor Timothy to preach the Word and to reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine (2Tim 4:2).
Often, the world’s way is to give one chance. “If you ever do so and so, that’s it. I’ll write you off”. That is unchristian. God is a God of second chances. He patiently endures us - should we not patiently endure others? Do we write off our children when they blow it? No. We bear long. We patiently endure. We continue to love and hope they will choose the right way. If you are quick to give up or end relationships “just like that”, you are not walking in God’s kind of love. Jesus said to do unto others as you would have them do to you. Wouldn’t you like a second chance? Wouldn’t you like the opportunity to make things right when you’ve blown it? Then you should give the same courtesy to others.
Your long suffering may go unnoticed. It may be taken for granted or rejected. It may be unappreciated. So is God’s long suffering towards mankind on a daily basis. Yet He does not quit. He doesn’t give up. True, there will come a time on judgment day that all second chances will be over. Also true, is that in things pertaining to the law of the land or other subjects, you may not get a lot of chances. However, in our Christian walk as a disciple of Jesus Christ, we are to imitate our Lord. And our Lord is long suffering. Give people the opportunity to make things right and to change. Don’t hold grudges. Forgive. Patiently endure. Until next time, rejoice in The Lord!