By Irvin Himmel
The Bible points out many interesting facts about love in I Cor. 13. After showing how excellent and indispensable love is, Paul personifies love by attributing to it the qualities and actions of a person.
Love has been defined as active good will toward another. The Corinthian Christians were torn with divisions, strife, envying, lawsuits, and other indications of carnality. They needed to learn the conduct that love produces, so Paul represents love as behaving in certain ways and possessing certain attributes (vs. 4-7).
Love Suffereth Long
in the exercise of His divine love toward man, the love that prompted the gift of His only begotten Son, God is longsuffering. Think of how patient He was in dealing with the rebellious Israelites in the long ago. Think of how “the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah” (1 Pet. 3:20). And remember, even today, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).
The Christian who learns to love others as the word of God teaches will bear long rather than be impatient. Longsuffering is named in Gal. 5:22 as a part of the fruit of the Spirit. Many events and pressures in day-to-day living tend to irritate us. If we can but walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called, we shall show “longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” (Eph. 4:1, 2).
Preachers have a special need for longsuffering. Timothy was instructed to “reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2). We can no more force an immediate change in one’s life, or a sudden change in a congregation where unfavorable conditions have developed over a period of years, than we can plant a seed in the soil on a given day and force it to produce a full-grown plant the next morning! Love does not act with destructive haste. Love suffers long.
Love Is Kind
Some people take pride in being brutally frank. It may be that their brutality is more conspicuous than their frankness. We should be able to speak in a very straightforward manner and still do it with gentleness and sympathy. Kindness is no hindrance to our speaking our convictions with boldness.
Love is not harsh. Love is not ill-natured. Love is not mean and vicious. Love is not ugly and hateful. Love is not vindictive and full of spite. It is the reverse of all that shows unkindness.
Paul wrote to the saints at Ephesus, “And be ye kind one to another, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32). Kindness is reflected in politeness, simple courtesies, acts of goodness, expressions of warmth or tenderness, and feelings of gentleness. We are taught of God to “be pitiful, be courteous” (1 Pet. 3:8).
Love Envieth Not
The Greek word translated “envieth” in 1 Cor. 13:4 “denotes to be zealous, moved with jealousy” (Vine). Sometimes people seethe and boil inwardly because of the successes, attainments, and possessions of others. Preachers are sometimes zealous against other preachers due to their ability and success. Instead of thanking God for men who excel in the good work of preaching the gospel, they turn green with envy and attempt to discredit others who have superior ability. Some brethren act as rivals of other brethren with whom they should join hands in the great work of God’s eternal kingdom, and the contentious rivalry is nothing more than plain envy.
To borrow the wording of the Amplified New Testament, “love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy.” Love delights in the welfare and happiness of others. Love rejoices with others who rejoice. Love makes us appreciate others who have risen to heights that we may never attain.
Love Vaunteth Not Itself
To “vaunt” oneself is to boast or brag. There are people who remind one of the proud peacock that struts to display itself. We admire the beauty of the peacock, but somehow we find it difficult to admire the man or woman who acts in a vainglorious manner. Even children soon get wise to a “show off.”
How utterly repulsive is the person who constantly directs attention to himself, bragging and singing as his theme song, “How Great I Art.” How disgusting is the attitude of one who sees himself as the finest person with whom God has graced the earth since Jesus came!
Remember this: love does not brag. Love possesses modesty and true humility.
Guardian of Truth XXV: 19, p. 295
May 7, 1981