In everything that you do, you should act in love.
We have waited a long time for Paul to give that instruction. That simple instruction would deal with so many of the problems that affected the church in Corinth.
Paul could have given that instruction at the beginning of his letter, when he warned about the opposing groups in that church (1:10-13). He could have repeated the advice when he wrote about their selfish and jealous attitudes in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3. If they acted in love, they would not be speaking proud words (4:6-8; 4:18-19). Christians who act in love do not allow their own feelings to control them (6:12-20). They do not choose to do anything that may cause trouble for a weaker Christian (8:8-13). Their own personal rights become less important than their desire to help other people (1 Corinthians chapter 9). Even when Paul described love so beautifully in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, he still did not tell Christians to act in love. He waited until the end of his letter to give that advice.
We think that, perhaps, Paul had a good reason to wait. He himself had explained in 1 Corinthians 13:4, ‘love is patient’.
Paul had been very patient with the Christians in Corinth. Of course he had the authority to give them orders. He could tell them to stop their foolish behaviour and to show love to each other. But even in this matter, Paul much preferred to act in love (4:21).
So, Paul first carefully and patiently explained why their behaviour was wrong. Then he showed them in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 how attractive and beautiful love is. He wanted them to choose themselves that they should act in love. And lastly, near the end of his letter, he encouraged them to do that.
Next part: Stephanas (1 Corinthians 16:15-18)
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© 2014, Keith Simons.