The Bible brings up the topic of love somewhere between 360-550 times, depending on the translation you’re reading. Maybe love is often mentioned because God is a pure illustration of love. Throughout the Bible, God’s love is poured out and bestowed upon us.

From His creation to His myriad of promises, unfailing mercy and grace and His moral discipline, God’s love is proven by His attention to every detail of our lives. His love comes with no strings attached and is entirely unconditional and perfect. God’s love is the heart and epicenter of the Bible. First Corinthians gives us a preview of God’s love for us and asks us to spread this love with others.

The meaning behind 1 Corinthians 13.

Paul’s first letter to the church of Corinth challenged believers to analyze their lives against Christ’s image. He especially emphasized love, specifically Christ’s love. Paul’s mission was to bring the church together in fellowship and unify the church. Church gatherings were a little disorganized and chaotic at the time. Their mission was to spread the good news, but they were focused on becoming prideful and being heard instead of dispensing and delivering their knowledge in love.

So it’s no accident that this love chapter is placed perfectly between two passages on spiritual gifts. Paul wanted to encourage the church to use their understanding of spiritual gifts and Christ to spread Christ’s love but to do so in love. Fundamentally, saying you can do everything right, but you don’t have anything if you don’t have love, as detailed in 1 Corinthians 13:2-3. The essential meaning of 1 Corinthians 13 is that, as believers, we should imitate Jesus’ love by using our gifts to love and serve others as Jesus did.

So how do we love others as Christ loves us? This is where the beloved and well-known verse of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. If Jesus calls us to share in His love, we have to understand how He loved.

Love’s characteristics.

Many of the characteristics of love are self-explanatory, but we have to see them through Christ’s lens. These love traits also may be easy to say, but they’re much more challenging to live out. First, love is patient and kind. Patience isn’t an easy virtue to uphold in our daily lives. Whether it’s a snarky remark from a neighbor or an eye roll from your teenager, impatience can set in quickly, leaving a reaction short of being nice. However, we’re called to be kind, patient and kind. If we desire to share Christ’s love with others, we should do so gently, with a patient approach.

Secondly, love doesn’t boast. At this point, we see a contrast in this verse. We know that love is kind and patient, but now we hear what love isn’t. It’s not self-seeking or boastful, yet how often do we pride ourselves in the good we do with selfish objectives? Sadly, selfishness is part of human nature. Naturally, people want to be liked, heard and acknowledged for their good deeds.

However, this verse flips that thinking around. As believers of Christ, we should put ourselves aside and amplify others’ needs. Not only that, but we should brag only about the Lord, acknowledging that He’s the One who uses every occurrence for good. This is the reason why testimonies are essential, as we share how God is faithful and good.

Love also doesn’t keep a record of wrongdoings. The notorious scoreboard between two enthusiastic people isn’t new. We see how the disciples denied, doubted and betrayed Jesus, comparing their love for Him against each other. Yet while these actions might have hurt Jesus, He forgave them and never discussed it again, never keeping score. Jesus calls us to do the same, freely forgiving and letting go. As His followers, we should follow Jesus’ example. When the scoreboard rears its ugly head, we must take our emotions to the Father, allowing Him to renew our hearts while seeking His guidance and wisdom.

Finally, love seeks truth, the absolute truth. As we’re attacked with countless data, logic, and views by our society and culture, we can take in numerous mixed messages, becoming confused about the truth. It’s entirely possible that we need the truth now more than ever. The truth we discover in God’s word stands firm and is sturdy. We can see the evidence that His word is based on truth.

Why is this chapter so popular?

The fullness of 1 Corinthians 13 is popular because the book centers around love, the best gift we can ever give and receive. God gave us the gift through His Son, declaring His powerful love for us. We were created in the image of love and with love. God calls us to use our spiritual gifts to love and share His love with others. Love is the central theme of 1 Corinthians 13. Love is the word that never fails. It defeats all odds, giving us hope to love and be fully loved. Love is the heart of the Bible.

God loves us.

The Creator of the heavens and earth loves us. We’re not an accident, no matter the by-product of a circumstance left here to look after God’s creation or your birth story. However, we’re part of the master plan. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that God has a plan for every one of us: to flourish and give us hope and a future. We are chosen, created, designed, and loved by God the Father. That’s a truth to grab hold of and never let go. God’s love for us is not a love that we can get our way out of, drain, expire or use up. Instead, His love is infinite, just like He is.

God will always love us, and we cannot take His love and put it to the side. For some, it’s a lovely thought, a reminder that makes us feel warm inside and smile. However, for others, those words cause pain in their hearts. Some might feel they don’t deserve God’s love or don’t want His love. However, His love isn’t like anything we’ve ever experienced.

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