What’s love got to do with it? According to the Apostle Paul, everything! Not just emotion, but real love, self-sacrificing love. We have returned to our study of 1 Corinthians to see that as the Apostle Paul instructs the Corinthians in the proper use of their gifts that he expects them to be exercised in love. The gifts are important and to be desired, but exercised apart from real love, they are useless and even annoying!
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:3 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 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. 3 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.
And so we must ask, What does real love look like?Paul gives us a series of short statements about what love is and about what it is not. Very probably because he intends to correct their vices as much as to instruct them in what is right. First we will look at the negative side of his instruction and see what Love Does Not Do.
1 Corinthians 13:4-6 …… love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own,
We see here that pride and love are incompatible. In fact, envy, pride and self-seeking are the very opposite of love! John Calvin says of this section, “Hence where envy reigns — where every one is desirous to be the first, or appear so, love there has no place.”
The Corinthians struggled with this issue in a bad way. As you may remember, Paul began the letter by rebuking them for divisions and attitudes of superiority 1 Corinthians 1:10-12 “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.'”
Love is in it for what it can give, pride for what it can get. Christ, being the example of true love certainly was not in it for Himself. Rather He made the ultimate sacrifice for the benefit of others. The Apostle John tells us much the same thing in 1 John 4.
1 John 4:10-11 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
God showed His love to us in sending Jesus into the world to be the sacrifice. If God loved us in this way (so loved us) then that is how we ought to love one another! This is the very opposite of the pride that the Corinthians were struggling with!
1 Corinthians 13:5-6 ….is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
Love does not expect evil from others and does not consider it in return. It is not happy when others fail but loves to see them walking in the truth.
As we consider what Love Doesn’t Do, we need to ask ourselves, Do I do these things? Am I in it for what I can get or do I seek to benefit others? Am I more concerned about what people think of me or what their needs are? Do I often think that people think evil of me? Would I just as soon see them fall into sin or would it make me happy to see one that I have been at odds with walking in the truth?
The true love of the Christian is willing to give up some comfort, rights or pride in order that our neighbor is benefited. This militates against our fallen human nature and thus proves itself all the more, a Gospel truth. I encourage you to listen to the audio of this sermon by clicking on the link below.