The Mineral Wells Wednesday Bible Study Club met Oct. 25 at the Black Horse Restaurant. Mildred Hestand served as hostess and gave the opening prayer. Carla Narcomey presented the lesson on 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13.
Wedged between chapters 12 and 14, in which Paul deals with God’s special gifts to His believers, is the much beloved chapter on Love. Paul begins by saying that one can have any of the previously discussed gifts, but unless it is used in a way that expresses love, the effort is meaningless. Here he uses the personal pronoun:
If “I” speak in tongues, but have not love, it is just noise.
If “I” have prophetic powers, all knowledge, and all faith, but have not love, I am nothing.
If “I” give away all I have and even become a burned martyr, I gain nothing.
This should have had a great influence on the early Corinthian church. Paul’s teaching led some from paganism and others from fundamental Judaism to Christianity. They had great respect for him and sought his advice on all things concerning their new faith. Yet he, himself, was saying that he could possess all these powerful characteristics, but without love, even he would be useless to God.
In verses 4-7, Paul leaves nothing for misunderstanding as he describes the kind of love God IS and expects of His believers. He lists fifteen characteristics of Christian love:
• Love is patient – patience with people. Christians are to exercise the same patience with others as God exercises with them.
• Love is kind – “sweet to all” as third century biblical scholar Origen wrote. Some of Christianity can be practiced in a harsh and critical manner. Christian love must avoid this unkindness.
• Love is not jealous – it does not envy. Christian love does not covet the possessions of other and, also, does not begrudge others for having what it does not.
• Love does not brag – it is not boastful. Christian love recognizes that all accomplishments are from God and for His glory.
• Love is not arrogant – it is not proud nor inflated with its own sense of importance. Christian love puts God and others ahead of itself.
• Love does not act unbecomingly – it is not rude. There is a graciousness in Christian love that never forgets that courtesy, tact, and politeness are desirable traits.
• Love does not seek its own – it is not self-seeking, insisting on its rights. It is said that there are two kinds of people in the world; those who are always thinking of what life owes them and those who never forget what they owe life. Christian love is demonstrated in the latter.
• Love is not provoked – not easily angered. Christian love does not become exasperated with people. Those who can control their tempers can overcome most anything.
• Love does not keep a record of wrongs – does not store the memory of any wrong it has received. Christian love practices the great lesson of forgetting wrongs.
• Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness – finds no pleasure in evildoing. Christian love prefers to look for the good people do rather than to hear derogatory thing about them.
• Love rejoices with the truth – does not wish to conceal truth. There are times when one wishes not to hear the truth of a matter. Christian love has nothing to hide and is glad when the truth wins through.
• Love bears all things – can endure anything. Christian love can bear any insult, any injury, and any disappointment. It is the kind of love that was in the heart of Jesus himself.
• Love believes all things – is completely trusting. Christian love believes the best about people. But, most importantly, one who loves God, completely trusts His Word and His Love.
• Love hopes all things – never ceases to hope. Christian love lives in hope. It is a hope that truth will triumph, that all will become believers, and that love will persevere. It hopes that the will of God will be known to all.
• Love endures all things – bears everything with triumphant fortitude. Christian love does not just live through situations and circumstances, but grows through them, and perhaps, even conquers and changes them.
In the concluding verses of chapter 13, Paul has more to say about love. Prophecies will cease, tongues will be stilled, and knowledge will pass away. All of these gifts are contrasted with unending love that never fails.
Paul feels that everything except love is temporary and imperfect. He feels that one sees only the reflections of God in the world and in the gospel. The perfect revelation of God is in Christ, but the immature, searching and inquiring mind can grasp it only in part. Only in the fulfillment of time will all be made clear. God is complete and perfect love and only through emulating that love can believers hope to know Him as He knows them – through love.
In verse 13, the chapter ends by stating that of all the virtues, love is supreme. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Following the lesson, club First Vice President Nikki Murphy, conducted a short business meeting. Linda Ashby completed the meeting with intercessory and closing prayers.