Posts Tagged ‘1 corinthians 13’

howWhen we use the word “jealous,” we use it in a sense of being envious of someone who has something we do not have. This kind of jealousy is a sin and is not characteristic of a Christian; rather, it shows that we are still being controlled by our own desires (1 Corinthians 3:3). Galatians 5:26 says, “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

The Bible tells us that we are to have the perfect kind of love that God has for us. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). The more we focus on ourselves and our own desires, the less we are able to focus on God. When we harden our hearts to the truth, we cannot turn to Jesus and allow Him to heal us (Matthew 13:15). But when we allow the Holy Spirit to control us, He will produce in us the fruit of our salvation, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Being jealous indicates that we are not satisfied with what God has given us. The Bible tells us to be content with what we have, for God will never fail or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). In order to combat jealousy, we need to become more like Jesus and less like ourselves. We can get to know Him through Bible study, prayer, and fellowship with mature believers. As we learn how to serve others instead of ourselves, our hearts will begin to change. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

mirrorNow we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.—1 Corinthians 13:12

The city of Corinth was known for the mirrors it made. They were distributed throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. They weren’t the same as mirrors we have today—made of glass with a silver backing. Corinthian mirrors were highly polished metal. Even the best were blurry. You could see yourself, but it was like looking into a car’s shiny hubcap or bumper. And the cheaper models gave a hazy reflection at best.

That’s a picture, says the apostle Paul, of our current level of knowledge and understanding. We can see the broad outline of things. But there’s a lot we don’t see; there are many things we don’t understand. What we know about God, about ourselves, and our world is limited. Our knowledge is incomplete. So anyone who takes pride in having great knowledge is a fool.

In the era of unclear mirrors other people knew better than you did how you actually looked. They could see you face to face. But God’s Word promises that one day we shall see things as they really are. Even better, we will see God. Clearly. Face to face. It won’t be like looking into a hubcap or through a haze. Meeting God will take our breath away—and our pride.

Until then, wise and helpful people major in love. Because love lasts forever.


One glorious day, Father, we will see you face to face. We will be filled with a wonder that is everlasting. We long for that day. Amen.

trustLove … always trusts…—1 Corinthians 13:6-7

In the American South they have a proverb: “If you call a dog a bad name, he’ll live up to it.” It’s probably true that if you call a dog a good name, he’ll live up to that too.

I think this proverb can also be applied to people. It’s amazing that with people you often get what you expect.

During an experiment several years ago all the brown-eyed students in a class were asked to sit in the front and all the blue-eyed students were asked to sit in the back. The teacher told the brown-eyed ones, “Brown-eyed children are more intelligent than blue-eyed.” The teacher kept this up for a week and found that the brown-eyed students did better in their homework. They got better grades. They were better behaved in class. The blue-eyed kids began to decline.

The following week the teacher came to class and said, “I’ve made a terrible mistake. The research shows it was the blue-eyed kids that are better.” She moved them to the front of the class, telling them they were more intelligent, and soon their scores soared.

Thankfully such experiments are no longer allowed. But they remind us that love is willing to trust, to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Jesus is willing to call us friends, trusting us to “go and bear … fruit that will last,” showing his love everywhere. Are we with him?


egoLove … is not self-seeking.—1 Corinthians 13:4-5

A pastor described a young couple that had recently been attending his church. As new attendees, they were delighted. They found the church warm and hospitable. They were welcomed with open arms. Long-time members gave them attention and were interested in their opinions. But many months later, after they became members of the church, this couple started to complain. They felt that people were no longer spending enough time with them. The church leaders, they decided, were only concerned with new visitors. No one focused on them anymore.

When a church leader heard about this, he visited with them and said, “When you first came here, you needed love and acceptance. Now you need to help the church give other people that love and acceptance.” The couple needed to make spiritual progress. They needed to learn that love is not self-seeking.

Each of us is tempted to set up our own ego as an idol for others to dance around. Unconsciously we put ourselves on stage and ask others to applaud. We praise so that we will get praise in return. We love to get love in return. We serve to be served in return. And we believe our deep needs excuse our behavior.

Love enables us to see beyond ourselves. It takes the attention off us and seeks the good of our neighbors.


Lord, rescue us. We are desperate, stuffed with our-selves. Unstuff us by your grace, and fill us with Jesus’ love. Amen.

kindnessLove is patient, love is kind.—1 Corinthians 13:4

A man went to the airport only to find his flight delayed, so he sat down near a restaurant. It was in the middle of the afternoon, and the restaurant was mostly empty. Only one person was there, a homeless and shabbily dressed man with his head resting on the tabletop. Suddenly a man who appeared to be the restaurant manager walked toward the table. The observer thought, “He’s going to throw him out.” But instead, as the manager walked past, he set a hot dog on the table. On the way back he set a cup of coffee next to the hot dog.

It was a simple kindness. But in effect the manager was saying, “In a few minutes I’m going to have to ask you to leave. But for a moment let us act like we are in heaven: ‘Welcome to God’s feast.’”

In a beautiful sermon on kindness Professor Tom Long suggests that biblical kindness is an act of civil disobedience. It’s a refusal to treat people according to the customs and traditions of the status quo. It insists on seeing people and treating them in light of who they will be in God’s future. It means treating people the way God in Jesus treats us: “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Whom can you treat with kindness today?


Father, show us how to do simple acts and say simple words that lighten people’s loads. In the name of Jesus, who carries all our burdens, Amen.

imagesIf I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.—1 Corinthians 13:3

In the early church some extremely gifted Christians were trapped in slavery. Because their lives were not their own, they were restricted in what they could do and how they could serve. Sometimes, one of their fellow Christians, observing this travesty, would exchange themselves for their gifted friends. They would become a slave in their place so these gifted people would be free to serve the church more effectively. When that happened, the mark of the branding iron was put on the new slave’s hand and his body was subjected to severe hardship.

We know it’s impossible to love without giving, but Paul reminds us that it is possible to give without loving. Paul describes a person who gets completely involved in social concerns. He gives of his purse and his person. And yet, without love, he gains nothing.

In a sense, that’s what Paul is saying about our gifts and sacrifices. Apart from love our gifts accomplish nothing, make us nothing, and gain us nothing. The essential ingredient in following Jesus, in using our gifts, and in any sacrifice—what the church and our neighborhoods need most—is love.

All this raises an important question: If love is the essential ingredient in life, what do we mean by love? We need to learn what love is, and what love does.

cymbalsIf I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love …—1 Corinthians 13:1

Imagine a person able to speak every language on earth. Imagine what an effective engineer or salesperson or Doctor that person could be. The moment they landed at an airport, they could speak to anyone. They would be a huge asset at a United Nations meeting or an international trade conference.

The apostle Paul imagines such a person, and then ups the ante: this person could also speak the languages of angels. We might suppose that a person who could communicate with angels might also be a brilliant speaker, able to leave a crowd hanging on their every word. Paul imagines such a person but says that if they lacked love, they would be “only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”

Suppose on Christmas a relative you loved deeply gave your eight-year-old twins a gong and a pair of cymbals. You might survive Christmas day. Christmas cheer covers a multitude of bad gifts. But if your twins paraded into your bedroom the next morning banging the gong and crashing the cymbals, those gifts would strain your nervous system to the breaking point. All they would mean to you was a loud noise to be rid of.

That’s what the Bible says about remarkable gifts of language and eloquence and teaching—if separated from love, they are only noise.

Just a thought for today as you go out unto the world.

The word hopeless has no place in a believers vocabulary. If the Lord is present, so is hope. God‘s Word offers hope.


*Regardless of how dark or desperate a situation seems, hope is there (1 Corinthians 13:13). This means we should hold tightly to our hope.

*Our hope is anchored in Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:15, 16), which means it is able to withstand any attack.

*Nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38,39) and the hope He brings. Any problem, situation, or affliction we face pales in comparison with the power of the Lord who can help us overcome it.


We have to learn to look beyond our immediate circumstances. beyond the worry and despair that so easily engulfs us, and towards the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. That light is the hope that God gives us in his Word. that hope, that confident expectation, can and will carry us through.