Love Is The Goal

Studies in First Corinthians – XXIII

“And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Faith. Hope. Love. These three are constantly found together in Scripture. Where one is found, the other two are often found lending support.

“Being justified by faith…we rejoice in hope…because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts” (Romans 5:1-5).

“…we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven” (Colossians 1:4-5).

“…your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

Faith is trust that rests upon evidence and leads to action. Hope is confidence in the future. Both are related to love. In fact, it is impossible to separate them. Faith looks back, claiming the saving work of Calvary. Hope looks forward and lays hold of a future glory. Love dominates the present. Faith says Jesus Christ came to save me; hope says He is coming again to take me to be with Him; love says He abides in my heart today.

Faith is nothing but an intellectual conviction without hope and love. Hope is just a dream without faith and love. Love is just a feeling, a temporary emotion, without faith and hope.

Paul says that the greatest of these three is love. Why? Because faith and hope are means to the end, but love is the goal. You cannot rest in faith and hope, but you can rest in love.

Love is greatest of all because God is love. God has no need for faith; He knows everything. God does not hope; He possess everything. But God loves, because He is love.

Love of God, eternal love, shed Thy love through me!
Nothing less than Calvary’s love would I ask of Thee.
Fill me, flood me, overflow me,
Love of God, eternal love, shed Thy love through me!
-Amy Carmichael

The Permanence of Love

Studies in First Corinthians – XXII

1 Corinthians 13:8 – “Love never fails.”

Love is so often reduced to a feeling and emotion, but it is so much more. Feelings fade. Emotions end. Love lasts. Love is permanent. Love stretches from one end of eternity to the other. This truth is not only the heart of the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, it is the whole message of God to the church at Corinth who had forgotten how to love.

Love God. Love People.

The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, not for our benefit only, but that we would be a demonstration of the never failing love of God in this world. The Apostle John wrote, “Every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him” (1 John 5:1). Every child of God should be characterized by a love that never fails.

The greek work translated “fails” in this chapter has several different meanings. Let me give you a few so that you can see the power of the love that God puts into our lives.

1. Love never “falls to the ground,” like the petals of a flower or the leaves of a tree in seasons of death and decay. Love never does that because there is no decay in love.
2. Love never “loses its strength,” like a storm that has exhausted its powers. Love is completely inexhaustible.
3. Love never “leaves its place,” because love is immovable. Even the stars sometime fall, but love stays put.
4. Love never “drops out of line,” like an undisciplined soldier. It always stays its course.

This kind of love, true love, originates in heaven and its perfect expression is in Jesus Christ, who “having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end” (John 13:1). This is the love of God from which nothing can separate the Christian, and this is the quality of life by which you and I are to be distinguished from everyone around us. May we always be realizing more fully than ever the breadth, the length, the depth, and the height of the love of God with passes all knowledge!

The Life of Love

Studies in First Corinthians – XXI

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

This chapter, the love chapter, is the greatest thing ever written on the subject. Short though it may be, we see here the definition and power of pure love. The words paint a picture of Jesus Christ and His very nature. We are looking at the original Love. He is looking back to us, calling for us to be a reproduction of His love in this world.

To love like this is to be like the Lord, and our unlikeness to Christ is proportionate to our failure to love.

Sin has robbed us of all likeness to God’s love nature, but here we have an outline of what the grace of God and the power of the Holy Ghost can do in our lives. There are fourteen “ingredients of love” in these four verses. In each one we see the life of Jesus Christ.

1. Love suffers long. Having been wronged, love is patient. It refuses to give in to anger even when unjustly treated. Love doesn’t strike back.

2. Love is kind. Enduring wrong could be a victory of discipline but to show kindness to the one who has wronged you requires love. Love not only takes the hurt, but shows grace and kindness to those responsible.

3. Love envies not. It doesn’t mind that others have greater privileges and gifts. It rejoices in the blessings of others. Love sees all the inequalities in life and finds content in its own place.

4. Love vaunteth not itself. “Love makes no parade” (Moffatt). It doesn’t show off or brag. It isn’t proud or conceited. It doesn’t seek the praise and applause of others. Instead, it seeks to serve.

5. Love is not puffed up. It is never arrogant. It doesn’t think too highly of self. Love excels in humility.

6. Love does not behave itself unseemly. It is not rude, but always courteous. It says and does the right thing in the right way at the right time.

7. Love seeks not her own. Love is not selfish, it is self-forgetful. It never grasps for its own rights.

8. Love is not easily provoked. It doesn’t have a temper. Love can be angry at sin, but it isn’t irritable. It is not vindictive and it never retaliates.

9. Love thinks no evil. It keeps a faithful record of kindness and forgets all wrong.

10. Love rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. “Love is never glad when others go wrong” (Moffatt). It does not rejoice in exposing the weakness and sin of others. It sorrows when others fail and celebrates when they repent.

11. Love bears all things. It gets underneath the burdens of life and lifts. It always seeks to the load of others.

12. Love believes all things. It is not easily deceived and it is not blind, but it also is not suspicious. It always seeks to find the best in others.

13. Love hopes all things. Though disappointments come, love holds on to hope. It never gives up on or dismisses anybody.

14. Love endures all things. Love cannot be conquered. It holds its ground in the midst of defeat and still it endures.

As I mentioned before, this type of love has only been perfected in Jesus Christ. If you would learn to live like this, it will only be by the power of His indwelling Spirit. Allow His perfect love to work a perfect work in you.

The Sovereignty of Love

Studies in First Corinthians – XX

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

In these first three verses we see a life without love. We have a picture of an individual who is blessed with many gifts and talents, but without love that life is empty and worthless. We learn from these verses three area’s over which love must be sovereign: the heart, the mind, and the will.

1. Love – Sovereign in the Heart

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal” (13:1).

Alan Redpath said, “The power behind your tongue, your speech, is not determined by the extent of your vocabulary but by the depth of your heart, by how much you love.” The tongue possesses incredible power to build up and to destroy. Our words hold incredible weight and reveal the condition of our heart.

I have heard preachers, and you probably have too, who were simply incredible public speakers. Their mastery of language and words was tremendous. One moment, they have people laughing. The next moment everyone is in tears. It is easy to admire an orator like that but while oratory can command admiration, only love can reach the heart. When love is sovereign in the heart, it will be manifested in what we say.

2. Love – Sovereign in the Mind

“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understanding all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing” (13:2).

There are men in the Bible who illustrate this point. For instance, Balaam was a prophet, but he had no love, and therefore betrayed his office and God’s people. Caiaphas, the High Priest, had discernment, knowing that one must be killed for the nation, but he was without love, and become a leader among those who crucified Jesus. Judas Iscariot had knowledge from his three years at the side of Jesus, but he had no love, betraying Him in the end.

Love is not a gift, but a grace, and it is the primary proof of a genuine new birth.

3. Love – Sovereign in the Will

“If I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing” (13:3).

How dangerous it is to be willing to fight and die for our faith and yet lack the spirit of love. It is pointless to die for the wrong motive. Paul told the church at Ephesus, “I know thy works, and they labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear evil men…and for my name’s sake hast labored, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left they first love (agape)” (Revelation 2:2-4). What a picture of busyness, patience, work, and endurance! And yet it is lacking in the most important thing: love.

We must allow His love to be sovereign in our lives: heart, mind, and emotions.