Attributes of Love
Around A.D.54, the Apostle Paul wrote an eye-opening letter to the church in Corinth. Given Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12, it is likely that the people of Corinth were busy comparing their contributions to the church and judging each other’s value based on each person’s gifts. Paul admonished the Corinthians that every part of the body is important and emphasized the need for unity in the church. Paul listed the gifts and encouraged believers to give their best. He ended chapter 12 with this: And I will show you a still more excellent way (v. 31, ESV). Chapter13 shows us that, as excellent as the gifts are, love is better.
Today, read 1 Corinthians 12 (to help set the scene) and then read 1 Corinthians 13 to see the kind of love Paul was talking about. He explained that it is possible to do all the right things, but if our actions are void of love, they lose their power.
The kind of love Paul described in 1 Corinthians 13 is hard to imagine because it is perfect, and we are not. The best way to understand each of these attributes is to see how they are lived out in the life of Jesus. Throughout this study we will take a look at how Jesus put love into action, and how we should fashion our lives after His example.
It all begins with our willingness to enter into another’s world, which is exactly what Jesus did. He entered into our world in a radical, humble way—He walked alongside us, and then He chose to die so that our relationship with God could be restored. However, the story doesn’t end there. He rose again and gave us the Holy Spirit to indwell us and go with us as we walk in the world. This is love.
It can feel risky to reach out and love others. Sometimes people are too needy, talkative, or messy. They might ask us to sacrifice our time or space in a way that is inconvenient or uncomfortable. But Jesus radically loved each person He encountered. He sat around the table with the outcasts. He shared water and conversation with a woman who couldn’t find anyone else to go to the well with her; He invited Himself into the homes of those who mothers wanted nothing to do with. As Jesus followers, we are called to follow His example of love, but we cannot love others in this way on our own. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit and His work in us that we can love like Jesus loved.
How has the love of Jesus impacted your life? Of the attributes of love listed in1 Corinthians 13:4-8, which have you experienced from someone else? How did that impact you?