Midweek Meditation: The Nature of Christian Love

1 Corinthians 13

Much of my preaching and teaching is centered on the idea of showing love to everyone.  Love is at the very heart of Gospel, and it is a requirement of those who claim to follow Jesus.  The Saviors commands us, in several places in Scripture, to love God, love neighbor, and to love our enemies.  With those three commands, there is no one left who we are not supposed to love.  We are to love our God with our whole heart, mind, and spirit, we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, and we are to love our enemies because it is easy to love those who love us back.  This is one of the most difficult parts of being a follower of Jesus Christ.

In the 13th Chapter of Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes specifically about what Christian love is supposed to look like.  Very often this is read at weddings as a reminder to the couple what sort of love they should be showing to one another, however important this is to the newly married couple, it is vitally important to followers of Jesus Christ.

In his commentary on the Letter’s to the Corinthians, William Barclay reminds his readers that Paul points out fifteen characteristics of Christian love, I will summarize over the next two Midweek Meditations.

Love is patient ~ The Greek word used here always describes patience with people and not patience with circumstances. It is used for people who are slow to anger, and it is used to describe God in his relationship with humanity, that he is slow to anger with us.

Love is kind ~ Origen the 3rd-century scholar wrote that this type of love means love is “sweet to all.”  There is so much about Christianity that is good, but there is also a lot that is bad.  Phillip II of Spain was one of the most Christian kings in Europe, but he launched the Spanish Inquisition because he felt that God wanted him to kill those who did not believe the same way the king did.

Love knows no envy ~ There are two types of envy, one that covets the possessions of others, and this type is very human and very hard to avoid, and the second is type is one that wishes that others did not receive what they received, in other words, this kind of envy cannot be happy for the success of others.  Christian love rejoices in the blessings of others and hopes in our blessings.

Love does not behave gracelessly ~ There is a graciousness in Christian love which never forgets that courtesy and tact and politeness are lovely things.

Love does not insist upon its rights ~ There are those who insist upon their privilege and those who always remember their responsibilities; those who always think that life owes them something and those who never forget what they owe life.  Barclay reminds us that “Whenever we start thinking about ‘our place,’ we are drifting away from Christian love.”

Love never flies into a temper ~ Christian love never become exasperated with people, when we lose our tempers we lose everything.

Love does not store up the memory of any wrong it has received ~ The Greek word for “Store Up” comes from an accountant entering things on a ledger so that they can be recalled later and not forgotten.  Many people hang on to their hurts and nurse their anger until they cannot forget. Christian love has learned the great lesson of forgetting.