1 Corinthians 13:4
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
New International Version
What Is Love?
What is “love” as God intends it to be? God anticipated this question and gave us an answer through the apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. In chapter 13, he describes love in 15 ways, using 15 verbs in the original Greek language.
In just four verses, Paul writes one of the most profound statements in all of literature about love.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV).
These verses don’t so much define love as they describe what love does and doesn’t do. “Love is a verb” is a nice way of characterizing Paul’s understanding of love. You will know love by how it behaves. Paul isn’t interested in an abstract definition; he is interested in practical reality: love in action.
In this chapter, Paul lists eight negatives, or things that true love is not. The negatives are sandwiched in between six positive attributes of love, followed by the declaration that love is eternal; it never ends.
We can understand these verses in two ways: this is how we should be, and this is how God is, since “God is love” (1 John 4:7 NIV). We love others and God because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). The supreme example of God’s love is Jesus Christ, who laid down his life for us, while we were God’s enemies (Romans 5:8-10; 1 John 3:16). He died in our place for all the times we fail to love God and love others, so that he might give us the ability to truly love God and others again.
Read these 15 descriptors for godly love and honestly test yourself. Could others describe you in this way? Ask God to help you, through his Spirit, to understand Jesus’ love for you displayed through the cross, and to grow in his love for others.
What Is Love?
LOVE IS PATIENT,
love is kind.
1 CORINTHIANS 13:4 NIV
Love Suffers Long
by Jon Bloom at Desiring God
Love Responds to Hurt in Two Ways
by F.F. BRUCE
These first two clauses, “Love is patient, love is kind,” represent respectively love’s necessary passive and active responses towards others. The one pictures long forbearance toward them—indeed, it is difficult to improve on the KJV’s “suffreth long”; the second pictures active goodness in their behalf. In Pauline theology they represent the two sides of the divine attitude toward humankind (cf. Romans 2:4). On the one hand, God’s loving forbearance is demonstrated by his holding back his wrath toward human rebellion; on the other hand, his kindness is found in the thousand-fold expressions of his mercy. Thus Paul’s description of love begins with this twofold description of God, who through Christ has shown himself forbearing and kind toward those who deserve judgment. The obvious implication, of course, is that this is how his people are to be towards others.
ROMANS 2:4 NLT
Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
2 Peter 3:9 NLT
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
ROMANS 5:8 ESV
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Love Is Patient, Love Is Kind
by Mike Boling at Servants of Grace
of Christian Love
by Alistair Begg
does not love
because God is love.
1 JOHN 4:8 NIV
Psalm 103:8-12 NIV
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Folk | Country Gospel
Love Is Kind
[Love] usually suggests not merely
willingness to wait
a long time, or endurance of suffering
without giving way,
but endurance of injuries
Love is kind—
not merely patient or
long-suffering in the face of injury,
but quick to
pay back with kindness
what it received in hurt.
ROMANS 5:5 ESV
God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
by Oswald Chambers
Love is not
or boastful or proud.
1 CORINTHIANS 13:4 NLT
1 CORINTHIANS 4:7 NIV
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
Folk | Country Gospel
Love Never Fails
1 JOHN 4:11 ESV
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
The Proof of Your Love
13-13-13: The Number of Love
by Robert J. Morgan
by Beau Hughes
Ephesians 3:17-19 NIV
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Philippians 1:9-11 NIV
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Love Came Down at Christmas
What is love? How do we know what love looks like? In this book, Sinclair Ferguson helps us see that God is love. God tells us about his love in his written Word, but he showed us what love looks like when his Word became flesh—when Jesus, God himself, came to earth.