Each of the qualities of love that Paul has listed in the following verses corresponds to a defect in the way of love that was expressed by the Corinthians church.
— 1 Corinthians 13.4-7 – Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Patient and Kind
The literal meaning of the Hebrew word for “patience” is very picturesque. “Long of nostrils” imagines a fire with a tall chimney. The fire is hot, but it cools by the time it reaches the top.
Long-enduring or long-suffering captures the meaning of the cooling-off nature of patience.
Patient people have internal and external control of their emotions in difficult circumstances. They are able to delay acting until they are in control of their emotions.
In Paul’s list of the fruit of the Spirit, both patience and kindness are mentioned: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5.22-23).
When we live in a relationship with the Holy Spirit, we can expect the evidence of our love to be shown by patience and kindness.
If you listen to the YouTube videos that Rudy Ross and I produce, you will frequently hear Rudy say that he prays to be kinder.
Rudy knows that one of the best ways he can be a witness for Christ is to be kind.
When we pray to be kind, God enables us to be good-natured, compassionate, and generous toward others.
Patience and kindness are a fruit of a relationship with the Spirit and a quality of love.
Love in Contrast
The next list in Paul’s catalog of love qualities challenges the existing attitudes and actions of the church in Corinth.
(1) Not envious.
We demonstrate our lack of maturity when we are envious of others.
— 1 Corinthians 3.3 – For you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations?
Love is able to rejoice at the success of another person.
(2) Not boastful or arrogant.
In the opening words of Paul’s letter, he laid down directions for the church
— 1 Corinthians 1.28-31 – God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.
He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
In order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
When we focus on what Jesus has done for us, there will be no room for boasting.
The more Jesus captures our attention, the more we will live in love and humble service to others.
(3) Not rude.
Shameful behavior is eliminated by love.
The shameful actions of a man sleeping with his stepmother (1 Corinthians 5) and the humiliation of the poor at the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11) are examples of the full meaning of “rude.”
(4) It does not insist on its own way.
Some in Corinth were convinced that “All things are lawful.”
Paul responded to this claim, “But not all things build up. Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other” (1 Corinthians 10.23-24).
Jesus is the ultimate example of someone who refused to have life on his own terms. We can’t imagine Jesus throwing a temper tantrum, because he didn’t get his way.
As we live in a Jesus-kind-of-life, we will find that his love compels us to surrender personal rights for the sake of other people.
(5) It is not irritable or resentful.
The program of Alcoholics Anonymous provides excellent practical insights concerning resentments.
“Resentment is the number one offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else” (Big Book of AA).
The following information about “resentments” is from http://www.hazeldenbettyford.org.
It’s revealing to look at the word itself. “Resentment” is close to “re-sentiment”—”sentiment” meaning “feeling” and “re” meaning “again.” So, resentment is literally “feeling again.” This gets to the heart of resentment: recycling old negative feelings or revisiting old wrongs done to us by others.
It’s as if each of the offending incidents is captured on videotape in our minds. Resentment, in effect, is mentally replaying the scene countless times each day. As we do so, real wrongs grow worse, and wrongs that are merely imagined assume a life of their own.
If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for that person or the thing that you resent, you will be free.
If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free.
One of my good friends has brought to my attention the destructive nature of resentments. He has overcome resentments by praying as outlined above.
(6) It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.
The Greek definition of “wrongdoing” is rich with meaning: injustice, morally wrong behavior, the wrongfulness of character or acts.
Wrongdoing is the opposite of loving behavior. Instead, love rejoices in all manner of the truth.
Spiritual Gifts and Character
A relationship with the Holy Spirit will enable the Spirit to give us the gifts of the Spirit. These gifts are important “tools” in our relationship with God and other people.
The Spirit will also produce a character in our lives that resembles the personality of Jesus.
Look again at the fruit of the Holy Spirit from Galatians. How our lives and those of people with whom we relate will be blessed as these fruits grow and blossom.
— Galatians 5.22-23 – The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Prayer for Ukraine
Hate is a very powerful force. Hate is winning the day on either side of the battle line in Ukraine.
Love is the only power greater than hate. Please join me in turning 1 Corinthians 13 into a prayer for the war in Ukraine.
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to pray for this human tragedy, while using this chapter.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.