1 Corinthians 13

The Way of Love

In the middle of Paul's discussion of gifts and how the body of Christ is constructed, he inserts an essay on love. Not eros love or love of passion, but what we might refer to as desire. Nor did he use the word philia or affection, but the word agape, or sacrificial, self-denying love. This whole chapter defines love as the more excellent way of building genuine love-unity in the Christian community. Paul's point couldn't be more clear: self-sacrifice in the Kingdom economy has more value than achievement, acquisition, or advancement.

Paul basically says three things about love.

1.  Apart from love, nothing I am, do, or achieve has any lasting value or worth (1-3).  

Paul clearly states he could speak like an angel (1), comprehend the mysteries of the universe, have mountain-moving faith (2), and sacrifice his body for a cause and still not love (3). And to not have love for Paul meant to live a worthless existence.

2.  Love as a motive produces a virtue and strength of inner character beyond human ability (4-7).

Love descriptively is completely selfless.

Love is not pushy (4).

Love is not harsh (5).  

Love is not insensitive (6).  

Love does not quit (7).

3.  Paul describes the transforming effect love has on the human heart, making a man out of a boy and a woman out of a girl, bringing them into a place where relationships and denial of self matter more than achievement (8-13).

When a person loves, a person is fully known and fully grown, building the foundation of his or her life on faith, hope, and love.