1 “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal”. Any spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit, even the brightest, the most important and super natural ones, will be meaningless. Unless the motivation of their appearance and use is love to God and to fellow men, they will be of no more profit than meaningless banging on a bronze basin or a big drum.
2 “If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing”. The fruit of one’s ministry, its power and grace can be totally useless for us unless we are motivated by love. God could use us like an axe or a saw but for such usage of our potential without love we will get no award.
3 “And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing”. Even our sacrifices, up to self-sacrifice and death for Christ as a martyr, will bring us no use in the face of eternity unless they are motivated and prompted by love.
4 “Love is patient…” How long? Until the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (James 5:7). While the Lord is patent with us, sinful people and our whole world, deprived and departed from God, we have no other choice but to be patient to one another as well. The Lord is patient with us only because He loves us and does not wish us to perish (2 Peter 3:9). And we are patient if we are motivated by the same feeling – love!
4 “…love is kind…” Being kind (or merciful) first of all means to forgive. How many times? Christ said, “up to seventy times seven (four hundred and ninety times)!”. Because for Christ’s sake, we were forgiven our debts/sins that stood as an immovable obstacle in our path to eternity with God. We were forgiven for free, without any payment or reward on our behalf. Therefore, if you have already experienced or would like to have God’s forgiveness for yourself, follow love and first of all, forgive your debtors in your earthly deeds which will never compare to the issues of eternity (Matthew 18:21-35).
4 “… [love] is not jealous”. It does not get jealous, so it rejoices with the blessings and success of its fellow men. It rejoices when my neighbor bought a car that I could have never afforded; when my neighbor built a house that is much larger and more comfortable than my own; when my colleague’s children are better students, praised by their teachers while my children seem to get ignored; when my neighbor’s field produces greater crops, his cow gives more milk, his cat is nicer and his dog is more pedigreed, etc., etc. And all of these blessings of my neighbor’s should bring me more joy and never steal my peace and good will from my heart. “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). Love comes along with this “great gain” – contentment.
4 “…love does not brag”. A person of love does not suffer from the feeling of inadequacy or from the desire to be somewhat higher than his neighbor. If your neighbor built a one-storey house, you don’t have to build a two-storey one; if your neighbor bought himself a car for twenty thousand, I don’t have to buy at least a thirty-thousand one; if his children go to a prestigious school of our city, I don’t have to send mine to study abroad; and if my neighbor’s dress costs one thousand, I don’t have to waste three thousand on mine. “Each esteem others better than themselves”, taught Christ. If you love, you will do so with joy.
4 “…[love] is not arrogant”. Pride is considered “the first of the sins to death” by all Christians. It was pride that had turned a shining cherubim into the prince of darkness, the devil. Even a homeless tramp may have this vice because he will ignore the views and opinions of him and his lifestyle by other people with pride and arrogance. It is very difficult to fight it, for the very realization that you have just humbled yourself contains a part of pride. Only joining in with the Spirit of Christ will bring healing and true victory over price. Love is humble, meek and submissive.
5 “…[love] does not act unbecomingly”. This means that it agrees with and accepts established rules, laws and the order of God’s created world we live in. All power comes from God – so, we accept all power. God makes some people rich, some people poor, and I must accept my fate without murmur or idleness. I respect and pray for my team leader, my boss, my senior manager, my supervisor, my director, my mayor, my governor, deputies, prime minister, and president. I do not take part in fruitless, condemning and criticizing talks that poison my “circle of life”. Love loves and embraces God’s order and its own place in it.
5 “…[love] does not seek its own». Love is selfless. It is the opposite to egoism. One poet once described his contemporaries filled with love: “I live for me; I sing to me, I love myself. Everything on the right and on the left is for me. Today and tomorrow exist for me. What is not mine also belongs to me!” “Let no one seek his own, but each one another’s”, taught Paul believers in Corynth (1 Cor. 10:24). Everything done with the motive of earthly benefits will be our loss in the future eternal life. “ For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
5 “…[love] is not provoked”. Anger and irritation are provoked because something in life does not go according to our wishes. And so our inner peace gets ruined, and a storm of emotions and resentment befalls the “guilty party” who ruined our limited little world. But the truth of our world is known in such crisis. It is easy to be peaceful when everything around you is quiet and peaceful too. But if you have no money, your children disobey you, your neighbor was mean to you and your colleague let you down at work – will your world stand? Get hidden in Christ as in a fortress, rely on Him in hope, get filled with peace and rest from His source – and nobody can ever take this peace away from you! Love by faith that He has everything under control!
5 “…[love] does not take into account a wrong suffered”. “Do not render evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, give blessing” (1 Peter 3:9). When evil is done against us, love does not use this fact to justify itself in thinking of evil in return. When the mud of evil words has been dumped upon us, love does not see it as basis for rendering the same thing. The nature of love is purity and holiness, therefore all evil in all of its types is unnatural to it.
6 “…[love]does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth”. Unrighteousness includes every thing that deviates from God’s commandments, His will, that is contrary to His character. Thoughts, feelings, actions of true love are always within God’s territory while everything of darkness and evil is considered sin and lust by the Almighty and is contrary to the very essence of love.
7 “…[love] bears all things”. A well-known Bible story tells us how one of Noah’s sons, Ham, mocked the nakedness of his drunk father, for which he and his descendants were cursed by his father. Two other sons did not want to look at their father’s nakedness and walked backwards to cover him – they were blessed. Love does not reveal, does not tell, does not spread the problems and the falls of one’s neighbor among friends or foes; it covers and hides his misconduct and sins. Such “archeology” is the interest of Satan. “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; lest Jehovah see, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him” (Proverbs 24:17-18). It is unseemly to laugh when you neighbor stumbles, falls down, breaks his face, etc. No matter how comically the situation looks, an intelligent and even more so a spiritual person can only feel compassion and sympathy. He will want to extend his own hands, to support his neighbor, to make sure no bad consequences will follow. It is true both for physical and for spiritual life.
7 “…[love] believes all things”. It’s not that it is stupid, for only the stupid (or the simple) “believe every word” (Proverbs 14:15). Love gives us yet another chance to correct, to renew, to make another attempt at starting a new life. It sees the weakness and helplessness of human nature in fighting against flesh, sin and Satan. And even while comprehending the high cost of the “stakes” – the eternity that awaits all of us – love gives a new chance and encourages one to use it.
7 “…[love] hopes all things”. It does not put its hope in a man because “cursed is the man who trusts in man” (Jeremiah 17:5,7). Love places its hope only in God and in this hope love trusts that the merciful and compassionate Lord will help His favorite creation – man – to accomplish wonderful dreams and reach worthy goals. Love hopes in the hope of the Lord.
7 “…[love] endures all things”. The love of Christ endured misunderstanding, envy, ungratefulness, treachery, mocking, humiliation, beatings, crucifixion and a martyr death. If His love fills our hearts, it hides the same potential: it can endure anything, all the sufferings and trials while blessing its abusers.
8 “Love never fails”. Many wonderful realities and qualities will disappear and perish with our temporary world: faith, knowledge, prophecies and some others. But love will stay with us forever. Even now it does not change with the changes of life: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for the time of trouble” (Proverbs 17:17). A folk proverb says, “A friend in need is a friend indeed”. Do not worry about those friends who left us in your hardships. Worry about not becoming a friend like that to your real friends.
9-12 “ For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known”. We are called to grow in love. All the living things on the earth grow. So if we are alive for the Lord, if we obtained life from Him, we must also grow and develop in love, becoming more and more mature and strong.
“God is love” but it is wrong to say that “love is God”. In this case, love is equated to God. For some people, it becomes even higher than God, thus turning into an idol requiring worship and sacrifices. God is above all things, everything else is below Him. And we accept only those things that come from Him, are created by Him, follow Him. That is why the Bible describes things from other sources in such a way, “You who love Jehovah, hate evil” (Psalm 97:10). Those who profess “free love” and homosexuality try to justify themselves with love in their relationships. But this love comes not out of God’s source. First of all, we need God, then – love that comes from Him. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). If you love what is contrary to God’s tastes, you love God’s opponent, Satan, and the things he offers. First comes God, then comes love that is from Him.
13 “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love”. Remember this. Neither theologically correct teaching, nor keeping religious rules and rites, nor spiritual gifts, nor sacrifices – love is above everything!