Looking at Love

1 Corinthians 13:4-8
A few years ago I adapted several studies on this passage for a class I taught on dating and marriage. The ideas was not new at all, but it seemed to be helpful. We took the biblical statement of love’s activity, added some practical application and compared it with that which pretends to be love. The bullet points:

Pretender Love

Love is …

Genuine Love (AGAPE)

  • Wants the fruit of deep relationship without roots.
  • Hurries toward deeper involvement without taking time to build.
  • Pushy! Reactive.

v. 4 is patient

  • Takes time to know people, accepts that deep relationship is built gradually.
  • Doesn’t push…willing to wait for the one loved to grow.
  • Willing to wait for the best.
  • Often insensitive
  • Hurtful
  • Uncaring
  • Selfish – “what’s in it for me” drives their choices and actions

v.4 is kind

  • Consistent courtesy and doing of kind deeds unselfishly. Manners.
  • Willing to do things you don’t really enjoy because the one you love likes doing them!
  • Honors the other
  • Tender & Forgiving
  • Possessive, insecure, may want to monopolize time together.
  • Doesn’t like to be “compared” to others. Immature
  • Easily threatened, often hostile
  • Demonstrates controlling behavior

v. 4 is not jealous

  • Trust at the core. Allows supportive freedom for partner to develop apart from you.
  • Non-controlling. Allows the relationship to be freely chosen without manipulation
  • Rejoices in the good that happens to a partner.
  • Anxious to impress others (not God?) through words or immature “showing off.”
  • Selfish. Slants everything to make self look good.
  • Related to “sloth”—i.e., talks the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk!

v. 4 does not brag (lit. extolling self)

  • Quiet about self. Lets others talk about them.
  • Affirmation of others rather than self.
  • Lets actions speak more than words
  • Attitude of selfish pride and improper sense of importance.
  • “I don’t need you…or anybody”
  • Denigrates others, showing off with an edge of contempt – “I’m better than you”
  • Unteachable, will not listen.
  • Blames others for failure.
  • Tends to hide real issues.

v. 4 is not arrogant (Greek, sense of “blowing”, i.e., puffed up, proud.)

  • Humble, Philippians 2:1-5 attitude that others are more important than myself.
  • Confident, but not selfishly proud. Is proud of the accomplishments of the one loved.
  • Shows servanthood.
  • Transparent and authentic.
  • Insensitive to those around you
  • Selfish with addition of rude…
  • Inappropriate behavior or expressions of emotion.
  • Sexually demanding.

v. 5 does not act unbecomingly

  • Shows respect and consideration for others.
  • Gracious.
  • Manners. Courteous. Honors another’s feelings.
  • Sense of appropriateness.
  • “I love me and I want you!”
  • Selfish and demanding of his own way.
  • “If” or “Because” love
  • May play the martyr to get his way.

v. 5 does not seek his own

  • Seeks to make the other a better person.
  • Protects the rights and dignity of another person…wife, kids, etc.
  • Gives.
  • “anyhow” love.
  • Touchy, fretful, resentful, easily upset
  • Others feel like they are “walking on eggshells.”
  • Anger may be diffused or diminished but shows up in “pouting, sulking, or silence”.
  • “nothing” is wrong when asked, but smolders under the surface.
  • Contemptuous attitude – may make everything a “joke.”

v. 5 is not provoked

  • Honestly faces weaknesses together.
  • Acceptance of circumstances and other people.
  • Able to understand and direct anger into productive discussion or activity.
  • Realizes that not everything is “about me.”
  • Holds grudges … has a bag of wrongs (even if they have been “forgiven”).
  • Usually demonstrates an ongoing critical spirit.

v. doesn’t take into account a wrong suffered (lit. doesn’t ledger life”

  • Forgives quickly and there is no “bookkeeping”
  • Allows sinfulness to creep in – especially if it leads to getting what we want.
  • Sexual immorality becomes tolerated and toyed with.
  • Leaves God out…especially if He “gets in the way” of personal happiness.

v. 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth.

  • Seeks to do right, to be just, to do good.
  • Avoids sinful situations or practice
  • Seeks God.
  • Exposes the weakness of others, usually to make self look good.

v. 7 bears all things (in Greek, more like “covers”)

  • 1 Peter 4:8 – “love covers a multitude of sins.”
  • Protective of the dignity of fellow-sinners.
  • Pessimistic.
  • Expects others to fail. Almost relishes in it – especially if he looks good in comparison.
  • Suspicious.

v. 7 hopes all things

  • Optimistic, especially about the one loved!
  • Sees the best in others and trusts them – especially considering God’s renewing work in our hearts and lives.
  • Expects the best, (and “bears” otherwise).
  • Suspicious without reason.
  • Untrusting
  • “Sees” lies and questions motives without reason.

v. 7 believes all things

  • Supportive, trusting.
  • When motive is unclear, thinks the best.
  • Implied: Willing to be hurt.
  • When the going gets tough they get out.
  • Tries to prevent change.
  • Will not accept flaws or weaknesses of partner.
  • Intolerant of moods.
  • Critical.

v. 7 endures all things

  • Stays in through the hard times – inconveniences & misunderstandings –the stuff of life.
  • Accepts change in a partner with graciousness (aging, etc.)
  • “In spite of” love.
  • Tolerates wrongs done.
  • Accepts the humanness of others.
  • Packs up when the romance is gone. Feelings oriented, subjective.
  • Will not stand the test of time.
  • Commitment is lacking.

v. 8 never fails (lit. “doesn’t fall down”)

  • Total commitment – the “till death do us part” clause of marriage vows.
  • Objective as well as subjective. More than feelings.
  • Stands during the test of adversity.

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