Hello there Dear Readers:
One of my classes is wrapping up a study of first Corinthians chapter thirteen, the “love” chapter in the Bible. I’ve already done an article on Love here. However, what I’m going to do here is to take the kind of love Christian writers in the Bible pushed the idea of, agape love, and find out what we learn about it from the Apostle Paul’s exposition on this kind of love.
The important thing to remember in our consideration is what agape love is. It is pure and unselfish love. All other kinds of love have an element of self-interest, or selfishness, in them. That is what differentiates the kind of love God has for humanity from all other kinds of love and what makes it such a valuable quality to cultivate to the greatest extent possible. It is that unselfish quality of agape love which allows it to rise above what others may do to us and allows us to even have real love for our enemies and be ready to forgive them. I would like to mention that I’m going to use the American Standard Version of the Bible when I quote the passage. So without further ado:
“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing.” (1Co 13:1-3)
Paul leaves us in no doubt about the importance of having this kind of love. Just prior to this passage Paul was discussing the unity of the Body of Christ, the true Church. The Corinthians had a big problem with divisions with little clics in the Church there who were essentially forming their own little sects at enmity with each other. He brought in the subject of the Gifts of the Spirit because apparently some had pride in having those gifts and felt they gave them some sort of superiority over the other members of the Body of Christ.
Then he rammed it home how foolish such divisions and thinking were with the simple statement where he tells them how important genuine unselfish love was, and still is today. John tells us in his first letter to the Christians at the end of the first century twice that “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). That phrase is an example of what some folks argue the final theos, or god in John 1:1 is, qualitative. What the phrase “God is love” really means is that God epitomizes the quality of love in the highest and most unselfish sense of the word. Nothing he does is out of any selfish motive and always out of or tempered by love in its purest sense.
That same love is supposed to be our motive for or temper whatever we do. It is that nobility of purpose we should aim for as well and without it all our efforts to serve God are in vain. That is the bottom line Paul uses to introduce his exposition on what love really is. Has he caught your attention, dear reader? Do you see how vital it is to pay attention to the rest of the chapter on love and study it closely? Few things are really more vital than wanting our Christian step to succeed! So please follow me as we go further into the subject of what real love is for the Christian in my next post.