In studying the concept of the love behind life, we’re all familiar with the language at the beginning of 1 Corinthians 13, which explores the implications of love. This is a chapter of Scripture that takes serious consideration. Here it is in the New King James Version:
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging 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, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” (vv. 1-3, NKJV).1
Here is the same passage in a more contemporary paraphrase: “If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, ‘Jump,’ and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love” (vv. 1-3).
Would you agree or disagree with Paul that all these actions are pointless without love? Don’t answer too quickly. Look carefully at the actions he mentions. Are they really worthless without love? Why or why not?
“Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have” (v. 4).
Write about a time when you didn’t give up, cared more for another than for yourself, and didn’t want what you didn’t have.
“Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always ‘me first’ ” (vv. 4, 5).
What are the things that tempt you most, when it comes to being humble versus being loving? Be as specific as you can.
Love “doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth” (vv. 5, 6).
Think of your one closest relationship, and sometimes you have “flown off the handle” or “kept score” with each other. What are some actions or attitudes you can change to help yourself to “take pleasure in the flowering of the truth” more than you take pleasure in being right?
“Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end” (v. 7).
Write a thank you letter or an e-mail to someone who acted out this wonderful, godly love toward you.
“Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled. When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good. We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love” (vv. 8-13).
How can you trust steadily?
How can you hope unswervingly?
How can you love extravagantly?2