As I said in part one of this particular series, it started life as a Daily Devotion on Truth in Palmyra, and was later combined and published as you see here. Enjoy!
Putting Verbs In Your Sentences
What we have there is simply the greatest description of love ever written. It is as full and complete a description of love, and what it is, as can be found anywhere. Actually, since it is God’s description, I think we need to say it IS the best description.
Dr. Phil, of the daytime talk show, does a rather neat thing in his show quite often. As they run off to a commercial for the last break, he says something like this: “When we come back, I am going to put verbs in my sentences and tell you what I think and what I think you need to to.” All he is really saying is that it is time to move from talking and feeling to doing.
In the above passage, Paul has put verbs in his sentences. I am as far from a Greek scholar as East is from the West, so look this up for yourself; what we have here is not a lot of adjectives describing love. What we see in that passage is nothing but verbs describing what love does.
Does this all sound familiar? Biblical love is NOT primarily a feeling; Biblical love is primarily a set of actions. We have to put legs on our love and let it walk around, or it is meaningless. In upcoming Devotions, we are going to dig into some of the ways Paul has taught us that our love can actually be expressed.
Love is Patient
Now we begin a study of what Paul taught us are some things we can do to put our love in action.
Love is patient; Charity suffereth long. This is not a description of how Christians should be patient or long suffering in regards to their lives and the challenges they face; this is referring to our patience with people. Specifically, this refers to our ability to not get angry with people, no matter the provocation. It could have been written, “love doesn’t get angry.”
This is purely a Christian trait, especially in the context of the Greek culture of the time. In Greek culture, this kind of love would not have been considered a virtue, but rather a weakness. Here is how Aristotle described the greatest virtue: “Refusal to tolerate any insult, any injury and readiness to strike back at any hurt.”
Aren’t we glad God has set the example of this for us? If God Himself had not shown us this great virtue where would we be? We sometimes react in anger because, “Well, they deserve it!” What if God had just given us what we deserve? We all know the answer to that question, don’t we?
Despite our sin, God revealed the following to us in His Word:
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
That should make us all very happy, and it should make us want to deal with other people in the same way God has dealt with us.
Love Is Kind
Love is kind. It is useful to take that statement and start from the base of the previous one. Despite all the wrongs we may have been subjected to, our love should still be kind. We should look at it that way; it is part of the same sentence in fact. The two thoughts are physically linked!
Kindness, like Biblical love, is not just some fuzzy feeling we have towards another; it is more than just being nice, although that is certainly important. The implication of this word, “kind” is usefulness to another, or deeds of kindness. This is in spite of what they may have given to us.
Aren’t we glad God has been kind to us? Again, aren’t we glad God didn’t react in a way that we deserved? Despite our actions, He has displayed the ultimate in kindness to us, in the form of His Son Jesus Christ.
Love Is Not Jealous
As we have covered earlier, Paul wrote to the Corinthians to address some very serious problems in that church. As we covered, the church at Corinth was blessed with an exceeding blessing of spiritual gifts. One of the problems was that their gifts had turned from blessing which should have unified them to cursings which were dividing them!
Why was this occurring? Simply put, jealousy. Instead of rejoicing in the gifts of others, they were becoming upset that they didn’t have the same gifts. Not having a particular gift was taking away their ability to be the center of things.
If we are honest, we have all been guilty of this offense. I certainly have. I love to sing, but on my best day I am quite average. On the other hand, others have voices like angels and people are just so inspired by hearing them. I have to admit looking upon that and wishing it was me so that those folks would be telling ME those good things. That hurts to say, but it is true.
I am hardly alone, though, am I? We have all done something like that at some point. When we do that, who has the gift come to be about? That’s right: when we do that we make our gifts, or the gifts of others about us rather than God.
Love, however, is not jealous. Our focus should always be how an activity edifies and builds up God and our church, not about how it builds US up.
Love Is Not Arrogant
This is the final devotion in Verse 4 of our text. Love does not brag, boast of it’s accomplishments; love is not an arrogant blowhard.
The church at Corinth was full of this as well. Those with the more popular gifts were using these gifts to lord it over other believers in some misguided air of superiority.
How do we not become this way? The same way we do not become jealous. We just remember who and for what we are given particular abilities. They are not for our own aggrandizement and selfish ambition, they are for the honor and glory of God and the building up of His body of believers.