LOVE IS NOT A FEELING or an emotion – it’s action. If you are a Christian, you have not been called to feel a certain way about your fellow Christians. Feelings come and go and you really can’t control them. But you have been called to a determination to bless and act in a loving way toward other Christians. Love is action, not a feeling of affection, although that will likely follow.
As we go through 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, let’s let it run like a diagnostics test. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to you ways in which you have sin and are not loving. Or let Him reveal to you how God is bringing this kind of love out in you, so you can rejoice.
Love Is Patient and Kind (v. 4a)
In the church at large (not just Dulin’s Grove), people have a strange quickness to turn on each other. Why does this happen? One reason might be that we get false expectations about what church life is supposed to be like: that, because we’re all Christians, we’re all perfect people – and so church life should be perfect too. But we aren’t perfect; we’re people in progress being put together through the work of Christ. So we cannot expect perfection and must be patient and tenderhearted.
You are here to provide padding for people in progress. You have been given so much patience and so much kindness from God that we can now provide that for others.
Love Is Not Envious, Boastful, or Arrogant (v. 4b)
You may think you don’t have any issues here. But have you ever looked at somebody who has their life more together than you and felt some negativity toward them? Their family has less strife than yours, or they seem happier, or are even better looking, so you have negative emotions toward them. That’s envy.
What about boasting? Is it possible that some of our social media posting is actually social media boasting? Are we presenting a false image of who we are digitally to make ourselves look good? Sometimes social media becomes a visual form of bragging.
Could it be that we approach church in an arrogant way sometimes? It could be as subtle as getting ready and entering the church mainly thinking “What will people think of me?” instead of “How can I build these people up today?”
Behind all this is a lack of love.
Love Is Not Rude and Does Not Insist On Its Own Way (v. 5a)
Ask yourself this: “Is my disposition toward the church one of ‘What’s in it for me?’ or ‘What’s in me for it?'” Are you thinking about how the church can serve you, or how you can serve the church? Love serves them. As a church, we are called to serve and submit to one another – not being rude or insisting on our own way.
Love Is Not Irritable or Resentful (v. 5b)
Irritable is being quick to throw a fit, and resentful means keeping a record of what people have done against you for revengeful purposes. Are you irritable? Do you keep track of how people have wronged you? Since you have been forgiven so thoroughly through Christ, you have become a forgiver. That’s who you are. You can’t keep a record of wrongs anymore.
Love Does Not Rejoice at Failure, But Rejoices When Others Live by the Gospel (v. 6)
Do you ever feel that tinge of secret pleasure when someone else fails? We all have something in us that is at least tempted to this. In our culture, we are competitive and always comparing ourselves to others. So when somebody else fails, it takes the pressure off us a little bit – we don’t have to try so hard to be that much better than they are. But this is unloving.
This is also what is often behind gossip. It’s just us warming ourselves by the fire of other people’s failures. And it’s evil and unloving. What we should do is look for opportunities to build one another up in each others’ esteem – encouraging one another and sharing what is going on so we can know how to pray.
Love Bears All, Believes All, Hopes All, and Endures All (v. 7)
Christian love never gets tired of supporting people; it never loses faith; there are no hopeless cases when love is present; love never gives up. This kind of love is the authenticating seal on any Christian ministry. God has called us to do great things for His Kingdom, but we can’t do any of it without this kind of love.
This is the kind of love we have received from God, and this is what we are to show to one another.
Discussion Starters (based on 1 Cor. 13:4-7)
- What does it mean to “provide padding for people in progress”?
- How does this differ from your expectations of church life?
- How do we provide padding for people in progress?
- In what ways do we tend to boast?
- What kind of content do you put social media?
- Are your intentions mostly to puff yourself up or to build others up?
- Do you look to serve the church or be served by it?
- What does submission to one another as the church look like?
- What are the results of resentment within the church?
- How do you usually talk about other people?
- In what ways can you build others up?
- Do you find this kind of love present in your own life?
- Where do you see areas of personal growth in this Christian love?
- What areas do you need to work on?