1 Corinthians 13 is a rather well-known passage. It’s quoted on greeting cards and at weddings. I daresay half the population could at least stumble through a paraphrase of verses 4-7, the popular “love” passage.
But how often and how extensively do we actually apply those verses? They’re not just for weddings or valentines, you know. They’re not just about newlyweds or dating couples or those who have celebrated 50th anniversaries. Those verses are for every single Christian on this earth. Every one who calls himself (or herself) a follower of Christ. Those verses should be biographical of each one of us, even as they are of Christ. Let me explain.
Here is the original passage:
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
But I want us to think about these statements with some applications in mind. Read through those verses again, this time focusing on how they describe God the Father, our Savior Jesus Christ, and God’s Spirit who dwells in our hearts. God in His very essence is love; therefore we can substitute His name for every occurrence of that word in this passage:
“God is patient and kind; His Spirit does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. He does not insist on its own way; He is not irritable or resentful; He does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. His Spirit bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Meditate on that for a moment. That is how He loves every one of us! He loves us patiently and kindly. He loved us humbly when He died on the cross. He loves us enough to give us a free will, letting us make our own choices rather than forcing obedience and slavery to His will. He loves us genuinely, with sincerity and truth. He will never lead us astray or speak deceitfully to our hearts. And He bears all our griefs and sins against Himself, He endures all our wayward sinfulness and yet loves us still.
Wow. Amazing love! How can it be?!
Now I want you to consider this passage a third time. But this time, put your name in place of the word love. Because, if you belong to Jesus Christ, then you have His Spirit dwelling in you and His name as your own. If you belong to Him, then you are to live as He lived on this earth. You are to mirror His image in your life. And that means mirroring His character of love:
“A Christian is patient and kind; a Christian does not envy or boast; she is not arrogant or rude. A Christian does not insist on her own way; she is not irritable or resentful; a Christian does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. A Christian bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
You know the love that led Christ to the cross? That’s how we are to love every single day. You know the patience and kindness He showed to mankind? So are we to be patient and kind toward all. You know the meekness, the humility? That must be our heart attitude as well. You know His graciousness? So must we be gracious, forgiving others for their wrongs against us. You know His integrity? That must characterize our lives in every single aspect, our speech and thoughts and actions.
You know His love? That must be our love as well.
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