Love always Perseveres!
When God tells us that love always perseveres, He means that real love has staying power; it will last, and not fade nor weaken. Thus, we can have confidence in God, and others, to hang in there and keep "going strong," especially when things get tough. Because God loves us so much, He will stand with us, and even carry us through our difficulties and upsets. Even when we feel we have reached rock bottom and have no hope, when we are filled with despair, God is carrying us because He loves us. Real love will never fade or become obsolete. It will remain standing when all else has gone to ruin. This love will destroy rumors and gossip, and cause us to believe the best about one another until proven otherwise-by facts. We will be able to maintain our relationships with friends, with our spouse, and not give up in times of dire stress and confusion. Love carries us to the ultimate hope, pointing us to the cross and the eternity to come. This love will show us that what we do and learn here on earth will echo for eternity.
Authentic Love refuses to quit!
Contexts and Background:
This passage is about a love that Jesus calls us to that is opposite to our feelings and inclinations. Paul was also using this rhetoric to showcase what God's great attributes are and what He can empower us to do. Why is this important? Because, people move toward those people who encourage, and move away from those who tear down and hurt. When we really love as Christ demonstrated and sacrificed for us to do, we display Him and show Him to people who are hurting, who are damaged and stuck in worried lives. Therefore, we can bring healing and reconciliation and fill in the emptiness of people that others reject or refuse to see. The original call to the Corinthians was to show real love to a church that forgot to love. We can follow this so that real love can be manifested in our lives, in our homes, and in our churches. Then, we can display this eminence of virtue into the world by the gift of our endurance bought by Christ's redemption.
Commentary-Word and Phrase Meanings:
· Love. Here, real love is showing us the power of unconditional love, that we have a God who is always there and to whom we can always come back! Christ's love was not only shown through words, but also by His sacrificial death. He is our model for who we are and how we are. For example, we draw others to ourselves and make friends by what and how we are, not and/or by what we want. These are distinguishing characteristics of Christ, and the marks of us, His followers. Our standard is Christ's love for us that we return to others around us. Love is more than action, more than feeling; to be true, it can't be one without the other. Love is not mandatory; we are not manipulated or coerced to love others or even be loving or be loved ourselves. Being loving is not about adhering to a religion or some kind of give-to-get scheme. Rather, love is an aspect of our gratitude, a piece of ourselves that we are willing to give because of a relationship with our Holy Lord to others around us (John 3:23; 4:7-8, 11-12, 19-21; 13:34-35)!
· Always / never loses / all things. Means "all;" the principles of love must impact us so we are influenced and energized by Christ and His archetype of real, true love. God's will is the determining factor in life, and He is the One who gives us the strength to do His will. He is the One we focus on so when people disappoint us, we know He will not, and we can hang in there no matter what-unless it is abuse or sinful! It all comes down to this: will you follow His will, or yours and the world's? Which one do you think brings the most blessings and contentment? When is it not always? Whether it is a soldier in a battle or a policeman protecting the neighborhood, a pastor protecting the offering from thieves or a battered wife from her ill-tempered husband, each of these people (whom I know) are kind and loving to their families and friends, and are not kind to the enemy, thieves, or abusers. In both cases, love is expressed-one as a husband and father, and the other as a protector. Compassion is to be exhibited in us all of the time, unless we come in contact with an evil that is so serious that we have to change our composure. We may have to hurt the other person so others in our care can be loved. Remember too that love also protects, as when an intruder were to come into your home (Luke 17:4; Rom. 5:5; 13:8-10).
· Perseveres / endures / endureth all things. Meaning to stand or hold your ground, as in to remain or abide with determination and tenacity in all circumstances, even when you can't see your way out. This is a love that is loyal and holds out, that goes beyond mere patience because it is tied to a hope that is alive. This love will not be overturned in all the rebuffs that come our way, such as suffering, trials, setbacks, disappointments, oppositions, loss and loneliness, or wounds and upsets-anything that we face. It is a military term that refers to holding a vital position at all costs and also is a term for the soldier who is positioned in the middle of a phalanx or a battle group, who can't see well, but musters anyway. In this position he is covered, and each one's shield covers the other's, and this aspect of love is in the midst of it all. Thus, this soldier is protected and is vital in battle. For love, this means it can handle not just the small irritations, but also the climatic events that life throws at us so we are able to persevere with the love that Christ gives and impart it to others, even be sympathetic to those who have done harmful things to us. This is a supernatural act that the Holy Spirit empowers us to do, because we cannot do this on our own. By exercising enduring love, we show them our Lord and His redemptive plan (Gen. 29:20; Job 13:15; Psalm 86:12; Matt. 5:16; 10:22; John 13:34-38; Rom. 5:5; 15:7; 1 Cor. 9:18-22; 2 Cor. 11:8-12; Eph. 3:16; 1 Thess. 3:1-12; 2 Thess. 1:4; 2 Tim. 2:3-10, 24; 3:11; 4:5; Heb. 10:32; James 1:12; 1 Pet. 2:20; 1 John 4:7-12).
· Persever(ance) come from our humility and focus. This is not hiding one's self-importance or giving a fake apology; rather, it is the removing of ourselves from our perceived and acknowledged self-importance so we are not the center of the universe or even the center of our own lives and ministry. Thus, our hurts do not consume us nor does our pride run or ruin us. There is some One who is greater at work, who deserves the glory and upon whom we are to focus. This enduring love can only come from God and it is available for us today, in spite of our circumstances or past hurts or failures.
· Endures comes from being confident and having hope, knowing that God pursues us and will empower our faith because we are being supernaturally energized by the Holy Spirit. We can allow God's empowerment and Fruit to infuse and use us and to be favorable to others with it! When we have the wrong idea and definition of love, it will adversely impose on all those areas in your life. Understanding love is not as important as understanding what love is not. God's love must be our model for life. It must flow into us from Christ and in return, flow out from us to those around us!
Devotional Thoughts and Applications:
If this love were working in me, how would I then act toward my friends, family, and people who help me? What about when they hurt me? If "Jesus were me," if He were living and walking in my life, (He is, by the …Way!) how would I be touching the lives of others? Would I gossip? Be negative? Be condescending? Be engrossed in career? Be all about "me?" Pay others back with retaliation and retribution? Or, would I be a person of faith and maturity, showing my partnership with Christ demonstrated with a love that endures, that goes the extra mile? So that when a spouse or stranger pushed my "buttons," I would not push back? Would I retain conviction and character, powered though the power of His Spirit? Would I realize I have His Holy Spirit without measure or limit? Jesus is not me, but He is in me and the results of my life should be the same! Is this revealed in you-by you? If not, why not?
Consider this: what would your life look like if you behaved and cooperated in God's way? Keep in mind that He will empower you with the gifts and courage. This is why we have the Fruit of the Spirit; He grows this fruit of love within us, cultivating it through our growth and maturity process in the same way that a tree bears fruit, just as we take what He gives us and nourish others by His Work. Then, we will have the gumption to stick it out, be more sympathetic and understanding, realize that the people who hurt us are hurting people themselves and embrace His call with the conviction to love them anyway. Christ is the One who can permeate them and use us as the exhibit, the picture on the box, and His Word as the instructions to put it all together. People need to see love lived out; so live it out!
The Essential Inductive Questions (for more Inductive questions see Inductive Bible Study):
1. What does this passage say?
2. What does this passage mean?
3. What is God telling me?
4. How am I encouraged and strengthened?
5. Is there sin in my life for which confession and repentance is needed?
6. How can I be changed, so I can learn and grow?
7. What is in the way of these precepts affecting me? What is in the way of my listening to God?
8. How does this apply to me? What will I do about it?
9. What can I model and teach?
10. What does God want me to share with someone?
Read these two passages again in different translations (1 Corinthians 13:1-8; 1 John 4: 7-12)
1. Discuss your thoughts on this aspect of love.
2. Give a positive example.
3. Give a negative example.
4. How is this type of love working in you?
5. Why is this love not working in you?
6. What blocks this love from being exhibited in you?
7. What would it take to get this love working in you?
8. What are you willing to do about it?
1. Why does real love never quit? Why is this important?
1. What causes you to be to be touchy or resentful so you harbor these things? How does this affect your feelings? What about your life and ministry?
2. What do you think Christ would like to see happen in your heart and life? What is His goal for your inner life?
3. How and why is love more than action and more than feeling? Why can't it be one without the other to be true?
4. How have you seen love's staying power? How have you made it last, rather than fade or weaken when you faced difficulties?
5. How is your confidence in God? How does this affect your confidence in others, and help you hang in there when things get tough?
6. How and why do you think the Corinthian church forgot to love? What can you do to make sure your church does not follow that fate?
7. What does it take for real love to be manifested in your life? How can you make a love that endures work in your home and church?
8. How does it motivate you that God loves you so much, that He stands with you, and carries you through your troubles and hurts?
9. How does true love build loyalty and faithfulness? How would this help you deal with your fears, hurts, and anger to build when things do not go your way?
10. How do you feel about the idea that there are other people who are hurting, who are damaged and stuck in worried lives? What can you do about this?
11. How does your church bring healing and reconciliation to fill in the emptiness in hurting people? What does your church need to do?
12. How do we acquire more of the virtues and characters of love? How does repentance play a part? Do you realize that we all have privileges and responsibilities in Christ? What are yours? What are you going to do about the abilities and promises He has for you?
© 2010, R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org/