The Cure for What Ails
1 Corinthians 13
In recent weeks our focus has been on 1 Corinthians 11-14, where Paul addresses three areas of unruliness and selfishness in the Corinthian church: gender roles (11:1-16), the Lord’s Table or Communion (11:17-34), and spiritual gifts in (12-14).
1 Corinthians 13 is one of the more famous passages in all of Scripture. It’s words are recited at wedding ceremonies, scribbled on notes for that “special someone”, and copied into greeting cards. What often got unnoticed is that the “love chapter” originally exists within the context of Paul’s discussion of spiritual gifts. So when it comes to the use (and misuse) of spiritual gifts, what’s love got to do with it? (sorry… I couldn't resist)
Paul’s eloquent description of love begins with an admission that it is essential to life- without it, Paul says, we are nothing (13:1-3). Next Paul describes the attributes of love, demonstrating how it is identifiable in life (13:4-7). Because of these characteristics, love outlasts anything else- including spiritual gifts (13:8-10). As a result, love is of the utmost value (13:11-13). What we are able to do for God is so much less significant that what He wants to produce in us. Paul’s emphasis in this chapter is essentially this: “It doesn't matter how many gifts you have, what about the Spirit’s work of love in your life? That’s what will last.”
Here are four introspective questions to help us focus on the kind of love Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13:
Is love important to me?
Is love expressed naturally by me?
Is love consistently coming from me?
Does love describe me?
- Think about a person who you would say truly loves/loved you. How does/did that person relate to you?
- Refer back to the attributes Paul used to describe love in 13:4-7. Do any of them need more attention in your life? If so, which ones? How can this group help?
- How can the proper application of love’s attributes from this chapter lead to healthy interdependence in our relationships (rather than unhealthy independence or dependence)?