1 Corinthians 13 - Love Empowers Spiritual Gifts.

1 Corinthians 13 - Love Empowers Spiritual Gifts.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (NIV) If I speak in the tongues of men and 
of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a 
clanging cymbal. 2 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 have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to 
the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I 
gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it 
does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not 
self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love 
does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always 
protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 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. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when 
perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 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 childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor 
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. 13 And now 
these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is 


Paul has just discussed the spiritual gifts in the previous 
chapter and now expounds on love. 

  This so-called hymn to love was Paul's prescription for 
solving the sickness in the church body in Corinth. The believers had 
spiritual gifts, but they lacked spiritual graces and needed to be 
reminded why love is so important in the Christian life. 
  Love puts quality into service (vv. 1-3). When you have love, 
your words and actions amount to something and help other people. 
  Love also puts maturity into character (vv. 4-7). The 
Corinthians were impatient with each other, suing each other, tolerating sin 
in the church, and creating problems because they did not have 
love. Whatever qualities you may have, they are nothing without love. 
  Love puts eternity into life (vv. 8-13). Love lasts, and what 
love does will last. Love is the greatest and does the greatest 
because "God is love" (1 John 4:8). [Chapter by Chapter Bible Commentary 
by Warren Wiersbe] 


Love; The Greek for this word indicates a selfless concern for 
the welfare of others that is not called forth by any quality of 
lovableness in the person loved, but is the product of a will to love in 
obedience to God's command. It is like Christ's love manifested on the 
cross. [NIV SB] 

"Love," the higher type of love, which recognizes something of 
value in the person or object that is loved; love that is based on 
principle, not on emotion; love that grows out of respect for the admirable 
qualities of its object. This love is that which is seen between the 
Father and Jesus (see John 15:10; 17:26); it is the redeeming love of 
the Godhead for lost humanity (see John 15:9; 1 John 3:1; 4:9, 16); 
it is the special quality demonstrated in the dealings of 
Christians with one another (see John 13:34, 35; 15:12-14); it is used to 
signify the believer's relation to God (see 1 John 2:5; 4:12; 5:3). Love 
for God is shown by conformity with His will; this is proof of love 
(see John 2:4, 5). . . . .This "love" (agape) must not be confused 
with that which is sometimes called love, a quality composed largely 
of feeling and emotion that has the center in self and the desires 
of self. Agape centers the interest and concern in others and 
leads to appropriate action. [SDA Bible Commentary] 

Our society confuses love and lust. Unlike lust, God's kind of 
love is directed outward toward others, not inward toward ourselves. 
It is utterly unselfish. This kind of love goes against our natural 
inclinations. It is possible to practice this love only if God helps us set 
aside our own desires and instincts, so that we can give love while 
expecting nothing in return. Thus the more we become like Christ, the more 
love we will show to others. [Life Application SB] 

It is impossible to know who and what God is but not exercise 
His special love to others. This is the proof of a person's walk 
with God.  Love, in this passage, is absolutely not human.  The human 
heart is a complete stranger to the kind of love described here. The 
definition for God's agape love can be found in John 3:16, it is 
self-sacrificial in nature; in I Corinthians 13, agape love is patient, kind, not 
jealous, doesn't brag, isn't arrogant, doesn't act unbecomingly, doesn't 
seek its own, isn't provoked, doesn't take into account a wrong 
suffered, doesn't rejoice in unrighteousness but in truth, bears all 
things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things and 
never, never fails. And last, agape love has Almighty God as its 
source.  Love is not God, God is love. We cannot exercise this love 
without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If you don't see it 
in your life, ask God for it today and be prepared for a radical 
change in your life.  [In His Time; Walk with Wisdom] 

  Love has no limits. Love never says, "You've gone too far. I 
can't love you now." "All things" means everything is included. 
Christ-like love leaves no doubt in the mind of another that you will 
continue to love steadfastly. Do those close to you know that they can 
fail and do foolish things, yet you will not falter in your love for 
them? Are others assured that, even when they hurt you, you still love 
them, holding nothing against them? 
  Love assumes the best about others. If someone inadvertently 
offends you, you choose to believe the offense was unintentional. If 
someone seeks to harm you, you "bear all things," forgiving 
unconditionally. If a positive light can be shed on a difficult encounter, you 
grasp it. If someone continually provokes you, you "endure all 
things." You never lose hope in the ones you love. You practice the same 
unconditional love toward others that Christ gives to you. 
  Paul said that he was nothing if he had the faith to move 
mountains, the tongue of an angel, and the gift of prophecy to understand 
all mysteries, yet did not have God's love. It is unacceptable to 
say, "Well, I just can't love people that way!" When God loves people 
through you, this is the only kind of love He has! Read 1 Corinthians 13 
with gratitude that God has already expressed this complete and 
selfless love to you. Pray and ask Him to express it through you now, to 
others. [Experiencing God Day by Day by Henry and Richard Blackaby re 
1Co. 13:7] 

EXAMPLES & ILLUSTRATIONS of Love Empowering Spiritual Gifts.

Oil of Kindness
  I recall reading some years ago in a newspaper article about 
an old man who carried a small can of "3-In-One Oil" with him 
wherever he went.  When he passed through a door that squeaked he 
squirted a little oil on the hinges.  If a gate was hard to open, he 
oiled the latch ... and thus he passed through life lubricating all 
the squeaking places, making live more pleasant for those who came 
after him ... an unusual procedure, yet he derived a great deal of 
pleasure in doing it. 
  We see others doing similar deeds like this by planting 
flowers/shrubs along the roadway or picking up litter, planting trees in 
unsightly places or like the good neighbor this Christmas who decorated a 
tree along the rail road to enhance the area with a little beauty. 
  In our lives, there are many opportunities for us to perhaps 
spread a little oil of kindness where it will make a big difference in 
a small way.  There's no telling how many lives we may keep from 
rusting and squeaking, how many gates to happiness we may oil that will 
make a life a little easier.  Pastor Fate Thomas 

His Name Is Bill
  His name is Bill.  He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with 
holes in it,  jeans and no shoes.  This was literally his wardrobe for 
his entire four years of college.  He is brilliant.  Kinda esoteric 
and very, very  bright.  He became a Christian while attending 
  Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed, very 
conservative church.  They want to develop a ministry to the students, but 
are not sure how to go about it. One day Bill decides to go there.  
He walks in with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt, and wild hair.  The 
service has already started and so Bill starts down the aisle looking 
for a seat. 
  The church is completely packed and he can't find a seat.  By 
now people are looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says 
anything.  Bill gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit and when 
he realizes there are no seats, he just squats down right on the 
carpet.  (Although perfectly acceptable behavior at a college 
fellowship, trust me, this had never happened in this church before!) 
  By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the 
air is thick. 
  About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the 
back of the church, a deacon is slowly making his way toward Bill.  
Now the deacon is in his eighties, has silver-gray hair, a 
three-piece suit, and a pocket watch.  A godly man, very elegant, very 
dignified, very courtly.  He walks with a cane and as he starts walking 
toward this boy, everyone is saying to themselves, you can't blame him 
for what he's going to do.  How can you expect a man of his age and 
of his background to understand some college kid on the floor? 
  It takes a long time for the man to reach the boy.  The church 
is utterly silent except for the clicking of the man's cane.  All 
eyes are focused on him. You can't even hear anyone breathing.  The 
people are thinking, the minister can't even preach the sermon until 
the deacon does what he has to do.  And now they see this elderly 
man drop his cane on the floor.  With great difficulty he lowers 
himself and sits down next to Bill and worships with him so he won't be 
alone.  Everyone chokes up with emotion. 
  When the minister gains control he says, "What I'm about to 
preach, you will never remember.  What you have just seen, you will 
never forget."  Author unknown 

Everyday Mom
  How could I work this out? Tomorrow was my meeting with a 
small circle of women who gathered to critique one another's writing. 
By far the least experienced, I felt honored to be so warmly 
included at their last meeting. How could I miss my second one? 
  Let's see. I could drop my husband off at work. He wouldn't 
have a car, but that would give me a vehicle to drive. A babysitter 
could pick up my son from his violin lesson at noon. Then, perhaps, 
she could take my daughter to her art lesson. Of course, this all 
meant I had to get four children up very early. Such a lot of work for 
a little meeting. But it was important--at least to me. Father, 
what should I do? 
  I heard the faint whisper of a familiar phrase: "If I speak in 
the tongues of angels . . . if understand all mysteries . . . but do 
not have love, I am nothing." 
  Stay home? Was that God's answer? But there are words of 
angels to translate, prophecies to reveal, and mysteries to decipher. 
Was I destined to be something? or nothing? Though "I have all faith 
.... but do not have love, I am nothing." 
  It wasn't until the next day as my husband drove away and I 
sat with my rested children on the couch that I realized I had 
unknowingly written something special. I had written "I love you" on their 
hearts. God had critiqued it. And I think he liked it. 
  Elizabeth Bridges Hiett, a registered nurse, has been happily 
married for fifteen years and is a homeschooling mother of four 
children. [The One Year Bible Live Verse Devotional re 1Co. 13:1, 2 NRSV] 

Fanny Crosby
  Frances Jane "Fanny" Crosby lost her sight as a six-week-old 
because of a mistake made by a man only posing to be a doctor. Despite 
this, she grew up a mischievous, smart, curious little girl. She 
attended the New York Institute for the Blind, went on to teach there, 
and developed incredible skill as a poet and lyricist. 
  Fanny didn't actually come to faith herself until, as an 
adult, she was shaken to the core by a cholera epidemic at the 
institute. Faced with that devastation, she sought God. In 1850, she put 
her faith in Jesus, saying, "For the first time I realized that I 
had been trying to hold the world in one hand and the Lord in the 
  From that point on, Fanny's poetry became hymns of praise. In 
1864, she began a lasting partnership with composers, William Bradbury 
among others, penning such classics as "To God Be the Glory," "Tell Me 
the Story of Jesus," and "I Am Thine, O Lord." 
  How different Fanny's life would have been had she harbored 
resentment for her blindness. Instead, her perspective was this: "When I 
get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will 
be that of my Savior!" 
  Fanny Crosby (11820-1915), American hymnist and wife of 
musician Alexander Van Alstyne, is credited with writing more than eight 
thousand hymns. [The One Year Bible Live Verse Devotional re 1Co. 13:12] 


1 Corinthians 13 for Today
Adapted from Maria Fontaine by Josie Clark
  1. Though I can speak five languages and talk intelligently on 
dozens of subjects, if I don't have enough love to keep from gossiping 
or putting down others, I'm not just making so much useless noise, 
I'm being downright destructive. 
  2. And though I read the Bible regularly and even know parts 
of it by heart, and though I pray daily and have a lot of faith and 
other spiritual gifts, if I don't have enough love to sometimes 
sacrifice some of my personal desires for others' sakes, then all of my 
"spirituality" amounts to nothing. 
  3. And though I work two jobs to provide for my family, and 
though I give to charity and volunteer for every community project that 
comes up, if I don't show love and kindness to those I live and work 
with, all my hard work and self-sacrifice are worthless. 
  4. Love has a long, hard, frustrating day at the office, yet 
doesn't get snappy and short-tempered. Love is happy for the other guy 
when he gets all the breaks. Love doesn't have to drive the flashiest 
car, live in the biggest house, or have all the latest gadgets. Love 
doesn't always have to be the boss or have the last word. 
  5. Love isn't rude or crude, isn't selfish, and doesn't gripe, 
guilt-trip, or pressure others to get what it wants. Love is too busy being 
concerned about the needs of others to spend much time worrying about its 
own. Love doesn't freak out when things don't go its way. Love is 
quick to believe the best about people and slow to believe the rest. 
  6. Love hates to hear gossip and instead wants only to talk 
about others' good qualities and the good that they've done. Love 
knows that what it listens to, watches, or reads will affect its 
attitudes and actions and thereby have an effect on others, so it's 
careful about how it spends its time. 
  7. Love is flexible, takes everything in stride, and can 
handle whatever comes its way. Love is always ready to give others the 
benefit of the doubt and looks for the best in them. Love wants to see 
others reach their full potential and does all it can to make that 
happen. Love never runs out of patience, even with those who are slow to 
get with the program or do their share. Love doesn't keep looking at 
its watch when others are talking. 
  8. Love never fails. I fail others, and others can fail me. We 
all can be mistaken, misguided, or confused at times. Our words and 
deeds often fall short, and our bright ideas don't always play out the 
way we want or expect them to. 
  9. We're frail, fallible, and often foolish, and our 
understanding of the world we live in, not to mention the world to come, is 
only partial at best. 
  10. But when God's Spirit of love lives in us, that changes 
  11. We're really just children when it comes to practicing 
real love, but God can help us outgrow our childish ways. 
  12. Without Him we're clueless when it comes to love and the 
other things that matter most in life, but when we live in His 
kingdom--the kingdom of Heaven that Jesus said is even now within us--we can 
see things as He does, get our priorities straight, pull out the 
stops, and live and love to the full. 
  13. There are lots of nice things in life and lots of good 
things, but none are as good or as important as love!