1 Cor. 13:4-7
Ok, so the first on Paul’s description is “love.” By the way, I forgot to mention this yesterday, but it's important to note that the word “fruit” in Galatians is singular, not plural. The characteristics are plural (nine of them), but there aren’t nine fruit. There’s only one fruit which has nine aspects to it.
So let’s talk about love. Some of what I’m about to say might be familiar to you, but I figure the worst things that’ll happen is that you’re reminded of some stuff you need to keep in mind.
The first thing we need to understand is that this word is one of the most overused in the English language. We say “I love baseball and pizza” and “I love my wife,” using the same word in both situations. The reason is that English only has one word for love, while Greek had four. They had Eros (from which we get the word erotic, so you get the idea), Phileos (from which Philadelphia gets its name) which was an affection or friendship bond, and Storge, which is a natural bonding like those of a parent/child relationship. And of course you know Agape, the self-sacrificing love.
That’s the love which is described in today’s passage. What’s it like?
• It’s patient with the beloved.
• It’s kind, caring about the other person’s hurt.
• It doesn’t envy what others have. In this case, it cares about the well-being of the beloved as its first priority.
• It doesn’t draw attention to itself by boasting.
• It has no room for pride.
• It doesn’t seek only its own interests, but puts the interests of others first.
• It’s not easily angered.
• It keeps no record of wrongs. That quality alone could help a lot of marriages.
• It doesn’t delight in evil. In other words, it wants to improve the moral quality of the beloved.
• It rejoices in the truth.
• It always protects the beloved, willing to “take a bullet” if that’s what it takes.
• It always trusts. Nope, you can’t truly love someone if you can’t trust them.
• It always hopes for the best.
• It always perseveres. No matter what happens, true love will remain steadfast.
Feel guilty yet? It’s pretty likely that you do, if you hold this mirror up to your own life. None of us love God or others like we should. That’s not the question. The question is “Am I improving?” "Am I becoming more like Christ?" "Am I displaying his character more today than I did last year?"
I guess this is a great time to remind you: This is a product of your relationship with Christ. This is not a product of your efforts to try harder.
It’s also a great test of the “love” we tend to display in our relationships with others. A boy tells a girl that he “loves” her as he’s trying to seduce her. He might be sincere in what he’s saying, but what he’s displaying is not love. If you claim you love your child and yet have a quick temper, then at that moment you’re not showing her real love. If you claim you love your spouse and yet don’t trust them, then your love is deficient at that point.
So how’s it look in that mirror?
Lord Jesus, my "love" is so cold and self-seeking and impatient at times. Please change me. I want to talk more like you, act more like you, and think more like you.