The biggest, and most popular chapter in the Bible on love, is 1 Corinthians 13. However, many take it out of its original context. Today, we are going to take a walk through 1 Corinthians 13 and learn just what Paul meant when he wrote this letter to the church in Corinth.
When Paul came to Corinth, his confidence was low, and the city was deeply enrooted in idol-worship with philosophers that resisted the word of God. When he is writing letters and visiting Corinth, it isn’t his first or even second letter or visit to them. At first, Paul is writing to them to teach them about Holy Living. As time passes by, he hears from others that Corinth is falling in a downward spiral and has entered into idol-worship. Eventually, he sent a letter so convicting that the Corinthians accept it, and desired to see Paul again.
That letter is 1 Corinthians. One thing that Paul felt he needed to express to the Corinthians was the power and importance of love, because God commanded us to love others, not to chase after the desires of gifts that are given to us by Christ. Through the text of 1 Corinthians 13, we can depict 4 qualities of love that teach us why we need to reflect Christ’s love.
This first quality is:
Love is Important (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
Why is love important?
Love is God. God is love. Easily said, God is important. Without Him, we are nothing. Without love, we can’t fully accomplish what God has called us to do in life, whether it be minister, teach, firefighter, or even just looking at the basics we are commanded to do, like spread the word of God.
John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
We are commanded to love others just like Christ has loved us. That is why love is important.
Love is a Fruit of the Spirit. The people of Corinth are asking Paul about spiritual gifts, but the Fruit of the Spirit is more important in the Christian’s life than the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. The Fruit of the Spirit leads to Christian holiness and sanctification. Whenever a church strives for miraculous experiences rather than Christian holiness and character, there will be division, confusion, and carnality.
Galatians 5:22-23 “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Even the most sensational spiritual gift is nothing without love. Paul is not minimizing the gifts, rather he is saying that they will have no good effect on the individual or church unless there is love in the life of the Christian in the exercise of his or her gifts. When our roots are firmly embedded in the Spirit, we produce the Fruit of the Spirit. The fruit we produce shows that we are linked and connected to the Spirit. Love is important because it is the personification of the Spirit of God.
You see, love is important because we can do nothing apart from it. Without it, we are very limitless in our works for Christ. And even in our faith because we fail to recognize how much love Christ really gives us.
What does important love look like?
Let’s take a moment to see what the true definition of “important” is. Merriam- Webster defines “important” as: “having serious meaning or worth; deserving or requiring serious attention”. So when we say “love is important”, it is something that has serious meaning and worth; it deserves/ requires our serious attention. It is not something to put on the “One Day I’ll Figure It Out List”, but it needs to be front and center. According to God’s word in 1 Corinthians 13, without making it important, we can do nothing beneficial apart from it.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV): “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. 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 do not have love, I am nothing. 3 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.”
Paul says that we can do all these things, we can speak in tongues, we can prophecy, we can have miraculous faith that moves mountains, give up all of our belongings to the poor, and even die for Christ’s sake, but if we do not have love, then we are nothing. That is why love is important.
Here’s an example: You could slave your life away at charity events such as the soup kitchen or working with a donation drive of some sort, maybe even helping out at church in a volunteer position. When we think of the word “Charity”, what comes to mind? We like to think of it as a good thing, right? We sometimes even like to think of it as sacrificing something we have (time, energy, belongings, etc.) to make sure that someone else is being helped. This is all good and well, and even a great way to show Christian love, but without love driving these actions, these “good deeds” mean nothing. We could give up all of our clothes and belongings to the poor, and not love. We would gain nothing. We simply cannot go through life without love because it would mean that anything we do without it would be useless. If you don’t have the love of Christ in your heart, you are really not making a single difference. According to Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, we gain nothing when we do anything without love.
How can we apply the importance of love to our lives?
When we try to use the Gifts of the Spirit without love, it is useless. It is a waste of our time and energy because we gain nothing. The Message Bible states: “No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” Friends, what does it mean to be bankrupt? It means to be broke. It means to have nothing. We have nothing without love. Let that be the reason that compels you to place this critical importance on love.
Looking back again to the “charity” illustration: The kind of love that is being used is agape love. Agape love sacrifices for the good of others. We need to be willing to sacrifice for others just like God has done when He sacrificed His son for us.
What is something that is important to you? Make Love higher than that.