Useful Bible Studies > 1 Corinthians Commentary > chapter 13

The nature of true love

1 Corinthians 13:4

In the opinion of many people today, love is an emotion. However, it is clear that Paul is not describing an emotion here. No emotion, however pleasant it may feel, has these qualities.

The kind of love that Paul describes is a decision, not an emotion. A person decides to be patient and kind. A person decides not to be jealous or proud.

When a person follows his emotions, that person is behaving in a selfish manner. When he does anything Ė even something good Ė he is trying to please himself. Even when he does something for someone elseís benefit, he is constantly thinking about his own feelings.

Paul has already warned the Christians in Corinth that they must not allow their feelings to rule their lives (10:6-11). He has warned them about proud words and proud attitudes (4:18-21). Now, he tells them how they should behave. Their words and their actions should constantly express the love of God. Godís love should fill their lives so much that they do not want to please themselves. Instead, their desire should be to serve other people by means of the love that God gives.

Jealous thoughts and proud words express selfish attitudes. True love is never selfish.

Paul† mentions patience and kindness as qualities of true love. These also appear in Galatians 5:22-23 as qualities that the Holy Spirit produces in a personís life. So when people show this kind of love, it is the result of the Holy Spiritís work in their lives. Their decision is to allow the Holy Spirit to work through them.

Next part: How to show love during an argument (1 Corinthians 13:5)

 

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© 2014, Keith Simons.