1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
Dear friends, as we continue our focus on love this week, we are memorizing a beautiful passage, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, an excerpt from what is commonly called “the love chapter”. As I read this description of love, I am reminded of the fruit of the Spirit and the work performed in us by the Holy Spirit that produces this kind of love.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Love is the first fruit listed, which is expanded upon in 1 Corinthians 13 – what does love look like in action? Love is patient, kind, rejoices with the truth, protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. Love never ends, it never fails. This is love in it’s pure form, as seen in Christ.
In contrast to the fruit of the Spirit, Paul outlines the desires of the flesh in Galatians 5 which are opposed to and work against the Spirit: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these (v19-21).
Similarly, 1 Corinthians 13 contrasts love with envy, boasting, arrogance, dishonoring others, selfishness, irritable & resentful attitudes, and delighting in evil. These are all the natural inclinations of our earthly flesh before Christ.
In order for us to bear the fruit of the Spirit and love others as Christ loves us, we are to crucify the flesh with its passions and desires and keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:24-25). This is the same analogy used by Jesus when he says we are to take up our cross and follow him.
So how do we do this and why would he demand that of us?
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”
The key to this new life is not “What” but “Who.” Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). We find our life in Him. In doing so, our selfish desires of the flesh are transformed by the Spirit.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
The more we seek Him, the more we feel that the flesh truly is in opposition. It can sometimes feel like a battle. In those times, we fall back on the gospel message and remember why we are “putting off our old self”. We are sinners, consumed by selfishness and vain conceit. In our own strength, we cannot shake this. We will always fall short of the glory of God. But His love and mercy and grace offer us unity with Him. What a good Father we have, who looks upon us with such compassion. And yet our sins must be dealt with; He is certainly a God of justice – through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our debt has been paid!
Praise the Lord!! At this we can fall on our knees with eternal gratitude, serving Him with our whole hearts. Our desires change into the desires of the Spirit, who dwells in us. What a blessing! Remember friends that this is not a sudden transformation, it is a lifelong journey of the heart through Christ.
2 Corinthians 5: 14-15
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
This reminder is essential as we live in this world that is full of sin. We live in a world that is attempting to redefine love. We live in a world that uses violence as a means of justice. We live in a world that rejects God and puts man on the throne. All around us, we see chaos.
How, then, do we live in this world, for Him?
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’“
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
By loving Him and loving others – loving them as He loves them – putting them first and ourselves last. God loves people. He made us in His image! Regardless of how we are treated or whether or not our needs are met, we are to look at our fellow man as image bearers of God. We are to look at their sin with compassion, expressing God’s love so that they may be saved.
May you be blessed this week as you rest in the arms of your heavenly Father and with the confidence that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6). Trust that through loving Him, his grace is sufficient to transform your heart. Love is beautiful. It’s life changing. It unites. May the fruit of the Spirit pour out of you in a way that brings healing to this world, through Christ.
By His Grace Alone,