1 Corinthians 13:4-7 - The Verses Project

Bible 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Posted September 23, 2013

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

If someone asked you what love is, how would you respond? What words would you use to describe it? If we looked to our culture to define it, what would the list look like? What about Hollywood? Here, we find out what God’s definition of love is through Paul. This well-known passage (often called a hymn or a poem) lands right between chapter 12 and chapter 14 where Paul is calling the church in Corinth to order in its worship, unity amidst diversity of spiritual gifting, and for the encouragement & edification of others in all they do. We learn that love must be the foundation of & frame for the gifts, not an after-thought or accessory to them; without it, all else is pointless! In his short book on 1 Corinthians 13, Evan May said, “We are to pursue love as we seek spiritual gifts because love gives life to gifts and love outlives gifts.”

This love that Paul calls us to is “otherly” in its nature... It is both inspiring and incriminating; it should both lift us to the heights and draw us to our knees. Why? Because as we read through it, we recognize our desire to embody it but also are very aware of our inability to walk in a love that remotely resembles it. NT Wright comments, “The description Paul gives in verses 4-7 is not an account of what Hollywood means by ‘love’. Romantic or erotic love, at its best, is like a signpost to the thing Paul is talking about: when two people are ‘in love’, they often make promises which sound like verses 4-7, but the emotional and physical energy which gets them that far won’t get them all the way to fulfilling the promises. It takes a commitment of mind and will - which often then, to its own surprise, brings erotic love along with it.”

May we allow this text to both search us and lead us to prayer as we ask God to make us a more loving people! Paul presents this list in two ways. On one hand, he tells us the things that love is, while on the other, he points out the things that love is not. By default we learn that true love both says yes to certain ways of being, but also (contrary to what our culture says) that it says no to other ways of being.

Love Is...

Bears all things
Believes all things
Hopes all things
Endures all things

Love Does Not/Is Not...

Does Not Envy
Does Not Boast
Is Not Arrogant
Is Not Rude
Does Not Insist On Its Own Way
Is Not Irritable
Is Not Resentful

On this list, which of these stand out to you? Are there any areas God may be highlighting for your growth? Perhaps a friend comes to mind, your spouse, or a co-worker? God may be calling you to love this person not as you perceive love to be, but rather as God defines it. Not only does this passage force us to look inwardly and come to terms with the fact that our love comes us remarkably short, it should cause us to look outwardly to the cross where we see God’s love on full display! There was one who is able to love like this: his name is Jesus. He too, by His Spirit in us, can teach us slowly but surely how to love like Him.


Song - Emery & Chris Clark
Artwork - Clint Walkingstick