In this world of sin and lawlessness, we have little to no understanding of what love really is. Everyone has an idea of what love means to them, but seldom do you find real love, as portrayed in the Bible.
In order to truly understand love we must turn to the Bible where we find it’s source - it’s beginning and it’s meaning.
1 Corinthians 12:4-5 and 31
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
1 Corinthians 13 then tells us what love is, and what it does.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
Fine speech without love is like sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal - a loud noise. We listen to speakers, and often can tell their motives by their speech. When we can speak very well it can become a point of pride for us, where we think of gaining glory for ourselves by our fine speech. We’re not seen as loving. Our pride speaks louder than our words. We are as a sounding brass or tinkling cymbal.
When we use our gift of excellent speech as a way to minister to others - not thinking of ourselves, but the good of others - we’re said to be loving. Why is that? Because love is not selfish.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
Prophecy, understanding mysteries, knowing a lot, and having faith enough to move mountains - without love, becomes a point of pride - or selfishness . As we know from Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” and we then come to nothing, and when things are done out of pride rather than love, they don’t do good for anyone else either.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Again, providing for the poor can become a point of pride. Giving our bodies to be burned, when not done out of love for God or others, is utterly useless - it’s of no profit to us or anyone else.
To love is to keep the commandments, which is possible only when actively seeking the Kingdom.
1 John 5:3
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
What then is love, if it is of such importance?
In this passage we simply learn what love is. Love for God and love for our neighbor is defined the same - If we love God, we will love our neighbor.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind ; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Suffereth (3114 G) long (3114 G) = Is forbearing, patient, long-spirited, patiently endures.
Patience = (Websters 1828) To suffer. The primary sense is continuance, holding out, from extending.
The suffering of afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation or other evil, with a calm, unruffled temper; endurance without murmuring or fretfulness. Patience may spring from constitutional fortitude, from a kind of heroic pride, or from Christian submission to the divine will.
A calm temper which bears evils without murmuring or discontent.
The act or quality of waiting long for justice or expected good without discontent.
Perseverance; constancy in labor or exertion.
The quality of bearing offenses and injuries without anger or revenge.
Is kind = (Websters 1828) Good will; benevolence; that temper or disposition which delights in contributing to the happiness of others, which is exercised cheerfully in gratifying their wishes, supplying their wants or alleviating their distresses; benignity of nature. Kindness ever accompanies love.
Act of good will; beneficence; any act of benevolence which promotes the happiness or welfare of others. Charity, hospitality, attentions to the wants of others, ect., are deemed acts of kindness, or kindnesses.
Envieth not = (Websters 1828) Pain, uneasiness, mortification or discontent excited by the sight of another’s superiority or success, accompanied with some degree of hatred or malignity, and often or usually with a desire or an effort to depreciate the person, and with pleasure in seeing him depressed. Envy springs from pride, ambition or love, mortified that another has obtained what one has a strong desire to possess.
Public odium; ill repute; invidiousness.
Invidiousness = The quality of provoking envy or hatred.
Vaunteth (4068 G) not itself = Doesn’t brag.
Is not puffed up = Isn’t prideful.
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Unseemly (Websters 1828) = Not fit or becoming; uncomely; unbecoming; indecent.
Seeketh (2212 G) not her own (1438 G) = Doesn’t worship, plot against, desire nor require means for self.
Is not easily provoked (Websters 1828) = Excited; roused; incited; made angry; incensed.
Thinketh (3049 G) no evil = Doesn’t invent, or keep inventory of evil. Doesn’t despise. Doesn’t suppose, impute or think on, evil. Doesn’t think worthless thoughts.
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Iniquity (93 G) = Injustice. Moral wrongfulness of character, life, or act. Unrighteousness. Wrong.
Truth (Websters 1828) = Conformity to fact or reality; exact accordance with that which is, or has been, or shall be. The truth of history constitutes its whole value. We rely on the truth of the scriptural prophecies.
True state of facts or things. The duty of a court of justice is to discover the truth. Witnesses are sworn to declare the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Conformity of words to thoughts, which is called moral truth.
Veracity; purity from falsehood; practice of speaking truth; habitual disposition to speak truth; as when we say, a man is a man of truth.
Exactness; conformity to rule.
Real fact or just principle; real state of things. There are innumerable truths with which we are not acquainted.
The truth of God, is His veracity and faithfulness. Or His revealed will.
Jesus Christ is called the truth.
It is sometimes used by way of concession.
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Beareth (Websters 1828) all things = To support’ to sustain; as, to bear a weight or burden.
To carry; to convey; to support and remove from place to place; as, “they bear him upon the shoulder;” “the eagle beareth them on her wings.”
To wear; to bear as a mark of authority or distinction; as, to bear a sword, a badge, a name, to bear arms in a coat.
To support or sustain without sinking or yielding; to endure; as, a man can bear severe pain or calamity; or to sustain with proportionate strength, and without injury; as, a man may bear stronger food or drink.
To entertain; to carry in the mind; as, to bear a great love for a friend; to bear inveterate hatred to gaming.
To suffer; to undergo; as, to bear punishment.
To suffer without resentment, or interference to prevent; to have patience; as, to bear neglect or indignities.
To admit or be capable of; that is, to suffer or sustain without violence, injury, or change; as, to give words the most favorable interpretation they will bear.
To bring forth or produce, as the fruit of plants, or the young of animals; as, to bear apples; to bear children.
To possess and use as power; to exercise; as, to bear sway.
To gain or win.
To sustain the effect, or be answerable for; as, to bear the blame.
To be the object of.
To behave; to act in any character; as, “hath he borne himself penitent?”
To remove, or to endure the effects of; and hence to give satisfaction for.
Believeth (Websters 1828) all things = To credit upon the authority or testimony of another; to be persuaded of the truth of something upon the declaration of another, or upon evidence furnished by reasons, arguments, and deductions of the mind, or by other circumstances, than personal knowledge.
When we believe the authority of another, we always put confidence in his veracity. When we believe upon the authority of reasoning, arguments, or a concurrence of facts and circumstances, we rest our conclusions upon their strength or probability, their agreement with our own experience, &c.
To expect or hope with confidence; to trust.
Hopeth (Websters 1828) all things = A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable. Hope differs from wish and desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it. Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety.
Confidence in a future event; the highest degree of well founded expectation of good; as a hope founded on God’s gracious promises; a scriptural sense.
That which gives hope; he or that which furnishes ground of expectation, or promises desired good. The hope of Israel is the Messiah.
An opinion or belief not amounting to certainty, but grounded on substantial evidence. The Christian indulges a hope, that his sins are pardoned.
To cherish a desire of good, with some expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable.
To place confidence in; to trust in with confident expectation of good.
Endureth (5278 G) all things = Stays under. Remains. Will undergo. Bears trials. Has fortitude. Perseveres. Abides. Has patience. Will stay behind.
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
Never faileth (1601 G) = Never drops away. Is never driven out of course. Doesn’t become inefficient, or ineffective. Cannot be cast off.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
Prophecy, fine speech and knowledge without love will all one day be gone. Love is what makes all those things of any importance, and what makes them last.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
Childish (Websters 1828) = Belonging to a child; trifling; puerile.
Pertaining to a child; as childish years or age; childish sports
Pertaining to children; ignorant; silly; weak; as childish fear.
Puerile = Boyish; childish; trifling; as a puerile amusement.
Being foolish, silly and weak Christians is shirking our duty to be responsible, mature, sons of God. We cannot be mature and responsible without knowledge of God and His ways. If we aren’t responsible, we can’t truly love others as God tells us to
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
We can’t know, or see things perfectly here on earth. We will see our own faults, as well as those of others; but with God’s help we can know how to act in love, and be a minister of Christ to others.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of His understanding.
Love abides - is lasting - because God is everlasting, and He is love.
1 John 4:8He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.