Monday, 5 January 2015
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 1 Corinthians 13:4
Starting in this verse, Paul will provide a host of the characteristics of love. Some will be passive, some will be active. Some will be positive, while others will be negative. They will provide contrasts, and they will provide parallel thoughts. By understanding love from these various angles, the perfections of love will be all the more evident, and those things which detract from love will be highlighted as well.
He is providing this list for the benefit of those in Corinth (and thus of us) particularly because several of these aspects have already been noted among the believers in this epistle. There has been jealousy, in-fighting, divisions, and a puffed-up attitude which he has had to correct. By defining true love, he will highlight what does and doesn’t meet the description.
And so his list begins with “Love suffers long and is kind.” Suffering is a passive action; being kind is an active one. Suffering long is something that requires perseverance, while being kind requires continued attention. He next says that “love does not envy.” If someone achieves something great, those who exhibit love will not be jealous of their accomplishment, even if it is something they themselves had strived for. Rather than envy, rejoicing will be demonstrated.
Paul next says that “love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.” Parading is showing off. If one truly loves, there is no need to put that love into the spotlight of life. Rather, the very nature of love is evident without ostentation. Being puffed up indicates pride and boasting. If we do something for another person in a true spirit of love, there is no need to sound out the deed for others to see. There will also be no desire to hold that deed over the person, reminding them of what was accomplished for them. Rather, the deed is rendered and it is not brought up again by the doer.
Life application: A life which is truly loving will demonstrate that state in a volitional manner. Even when tensions exist, they will continue to willingly place the perfections of love before those things which would be a hindrance to them. Occasionally coming to 1 Corinthians 13 and contemplating its words is a good way to always keep these precepts at the forefront of one’s mind.
Heavenly Father, Your word describes love in detail and how to be loving toward others. But it also shows us this by example, especially in how You deal with Your creatures. Your pure love is on display from the first moments of man’s walk on earth, right through to the promises which are given for all eternity yet to come. And all of it is centered on the giving of Your Son to show us Your very heart. Help me to be like Christ in my love towards others – firm in hating sin, compassionate towards the repentant, and willing to forgive when forgiveness is due. Thank You for hearing my prayer. Amen.