Understanding love - Explore the Bible for April 22, 2018
Explore the Bible
April 22, 2018
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (ESV)
What is love? Well, you can ask three people that question and get four responses. Love, at least in our modern society, seems to be applied to everything resulting in diminishing quality.
The term the Apostle Paul used for love in 1 Corinthians 13 is the word “agape.” Unlike the other words for love in Greek (eros=sexual love, philos=friendship love, storge=familial love), agape, according to English theologian John Colet, is concerned only with “giving to the object of its affection.” For Christians, God is the object of our affection, and when we use our gifts in love we are glorifying God.
In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, Paul continued his discussion of gifts and ministry in the church with a movement from the action to intent. The Corinthians knew about love, but they also struggled with consistently loving their fellow Christians.
Paul cited division (1 Cor. 1-4), immorality (1 Cor. 5), lawsuits (1 Cor. 6), freedom (1 Cor. 8-10) and selfishness (1 Cor. 11-14). Their struggle with consistency was clearly present in their use of the gifts in the church and how they treated others who possessed different gifts.
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, admonished the Corinthians that if their gifts were not used in love, then they were useless. The action is negated by the intent and the desire of one’s heart. If I am not using my gifts to love God and edify the church, then my gifts are like ash.
Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 that applying agape love to the use of one’s gifts is necessary for proper use. When we are full of love, in our relationships with other believers we are slow to anger and abounding in grace. Being full of love focuses on God and does not produce negative emotions toward brothers and sisters with different gifts. Remember, God is the focus of our gift, and the Church is the benefactor.
Love, the apostle emphasized in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13, is eternal.
Love is eternal. Christians need to use their gifts for the glory of God and from a heart of love.