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Bible Study Thirteen: Love

The Bible tells us that “God is love.” 1 John 4:7. This would mean that the way of life is the way of love. Hence, we are told to “covet earnestly the best gifts; and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”1 Corinthians 12:31. The more excellent way is the way of love.

There are wonderful gifts of the Spirit, such as, prophesy, evangelism, teaching, pastoring, wisdom, knowledge, miracles, speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues, and helps. See 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4:8-15. But greater than all of these gifts is the gift of love. As Paul wrote, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity [agape love], I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity [agape love], I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity [agape love], it profiteth me nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

1. What is the power that constrains us to tell the world about Jesus? 2 Corinthians 5:14

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.” What led the early church to gladly suffered persecution, even martyrdom, for the Master? It was the love of the Master for them.

It is not love of self that makes us rational beings but knowing that God loves us with an everlasting love. As we know, character is determined by our thoughts and feelings. Behind each thought is a motive. Are our motive pure or corrupt? Are they good or evil? For example, some wealthy men gave from their excess to the temple treasure to be simply be seen of men. But Jesus declared that the widow’s gift of two mites was greater in the estimation of heaven than the combined sum given by the rich out of their ample treasures. The widow’s motives were pure. Therefore, the value of a work accomplished or the extent of a sacrifice made is not determined by its magnitude, but by the motive underlying the action.

No matter how small the good deed done, if it is done with a humble heart, it is more pleasing to God and the greatest works marred by self-aggrandizement. We are not to live to be seen of men to win their esteem, but to live to be like Jesus. Being faithful to God in all things is more important than the giving of large gifts with the wrong motive. God already own the universe, let alone planet Earth, therefore, give your heart to God and do all things to the glory of His name.

The church of Ephesus was known for its good works. But Jesus said, “Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” Revelation 2:4, 5

The Weymouth New Testament version says, “Yet I have this against you—that you no longer love Me as you did at first. Be mindful, therefore, of the height from which you have fallen. Repent at once, and act as you did at first, or else I will surely come and remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.”

Some within the active Ephesus church experienced a diminished love for Jesus. We are not told what caused this diminished love. Perhaps other attractions and interests were supplanting affection for Christ. Did they love the church organization more than Jesus? Did they love their doctrines more than Jesus? Whatever the case, they were threatened with losing their candlestick, or life eternal.

2. Is there a relationship between our love for God and obedience to Him? John 14:15

Jesus said, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15

Jesus repeated this principle many times with His disciples. “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. . . . If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father’s will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him.” John 14:21, 23

Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, heave we not prophesied in Thy name? and in They name have cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:2-23

It is clear from these scriptures that love and obedience are Inseparable. In the life of Christ, there is the greatest example of love and obedience to the Father. Should we not choose to be as loving?

David said, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:8

The beloved John wrote, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandment: and his commandments are not grievous.” 1 John 5:2, 3

Jesus was clear that we are not to obey like the Pharisees who were trying to earn salvation by their works. He said, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20. The Pharisees actually failed to keep God’s law, because they attempted so without faith. But it is our faith in God’s perfect Ten Commandments and His almighty power, that we believe we can obey all the words of Jesus.

Remember, we are not to attempt to obey God merely out of a sense of duty, but motivated by His great love. Love knows no burden or sacrifice. When we consider all that God has done for us, we are willing to do all that He asks. We are willing to do all that is pleasing to Him. We are willing to do all that brings glory to His name.

Duty only does what is minimal. Love goes the second mile, and delights to do more and more for the Savior.

3. Are we commanded to love? John 13:34

Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I l have loved you, that ye also love one another.” John 13:34

This is not the eleventh commandment, but a summary of the commandments.

4. In what way is love a new commandment? 1 John 4:11

There was a new and fresh reason to love. 1 John 4:11, “If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”1 John 4:11

Christ’s coming to our world placed love in a new and fresh light. There was a new and fresh reason to love. God hath visited us in His Son. More than that, God sent His own Son to die for our sins. It had been promised since the fall of Adam and Eve. But now that Christ had come in our flesh and blood, no one had yet seen such love.

Even the angels in heaven, saw how much God loved us when Jesus put on human flesh. More than this, when the angelic realm saw Christ die for us, they witnessed the greatest expression of love that they had ever seen.

In our little fallen world, “scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.” Romans 5:7. This was the world’s greatest concept of love, that one might be willing to die for a good man.

But notice this, “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. The world had never conceived of such love. Such a love had been prophesied in the Scriptures. But when Jesus died on the cross for our entire sinful world, no greater love had ever been expressed. Therefore, the new commandment was not new so much new in time, but in experience. “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He had laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 1 John 3:16

What is the great rule of love? Matthew 7:12

Jesus said, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12

We are to live to be a blessing to others. Only he who has put on the humility and meekness of Christ can truly or fully keep this golden rule. In fact, we cannot keep this rule if we are not willing to minister to the needs of others. If we only plan to serve our own needs, we will fall short in true love. With all the suffering in our world, you will always be an opportunity to serve others. If we are not touch by the suffering in our world, we know not Jesus.

James wrote, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27

5. What are the ingredients of love? 1 Cor 13:4-7

The apostle shows what love is and what it is not, what it does and what it does not do.

“Love suffereth long, and is kind.” 1 Corinthians 13:4

Has anyone rubbed you the wrong way? Have you experienced those clashes of personality? Love is the only remedy. Impatience must be replaced with the patience of Jesus. Do not snap back, but breathe a prayer for the love, kindness, and patience of Jesus to be in your heart.

Words that are similar to “kind,” are mild, gentle, gracious, courteous. Be courteous at all times.

“Love envieth not.” 1 Corinthians 13:4

Love is not jealous. “Envy” comes from the Greek word, zelos, meaning “to boil.” It produces anger and bitterness. It is the fruit of malice and ill will.

Why does envy arise? It is the result of competition with others who have more talents or are doing something more efficiently. Envy is pain at the sight of superior excellence or accomplishments in another, and is characterized by feelings of inferiority which produces bitterness born of selfishness. It may arise from discontent over one’s station or condition in life as compared to that of others.

But love knows neither envy nor jealousy. Rather, love learns to rejoice in the success of others.

“Love vaunteth nor itself, is not puffed up.” 1 Corinthians 13:4

Love is not arrogant or rude. Arrogance is an attitude or characteristic of which rudeness, rashness, and boasting are outward, verbal expressions.

“To vaunt” is “to make boastful assertions or ostentatious display of one’s worth, attainments, or achievements; to give vent to loud exultation, glory, or triumph.”

“Puffed up” reminds me of inflation. Inflation of money indicates a decrease in value. The greater inflation of one’s pride, the less genuine worth.

Proverbs 8:13, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the forward mouth, do I hate.”

Jesus said, “every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Luke 18:14

The danger of pride is that a person will not sense their need for Christ. They make no room for Jesus to be in their heart.

“Love doth not behave itself unseemly” 1 Corinthians 13:5

Love is never rude. Love does not act unreasonable and impolite. Love is not emotionalism, mood swings, or uncivil.

“Love seeketh not her own.” 1 Corinthians 13:5

Love does not insist on its own way. Love doesn’t exalt itself. Love realizes that it is more blessed to give than receive. Paul wrote, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Philippians 2:3, 4

Love is reasonable and is willing to seek counsel. It is utterly unselfish.

“Love is not easily provoked.” 1 Corinthians 13:5

Love does not have a quick, hair-trigger temper. It is not hasty, touchy, or moody, or over-sensitive.

As long as “all things work together for good to them that love God” and “are the called according to his purpose,” there is no valid reason for indignation or irritability.

“Love thinketh no evil.” 1 Corinthians 13:5

Love does not keep a record of evil committed by others. Love is charitable and never unnecessarily suspicious. Love will seek to make allowances for weaknesses, while not excusing them.
“Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” Proverbs 10:12

Love does not listen eagerly to unfavorable rumors. Love does not brood over wrongs. It does not nurse pet grievances, even if there is some truth to them.

Love has a way of looking to the future with a prayerful heart that things will be better. See Philippians 3:12-14

The ability to let go of some unpleasant past experience or disappointment is of untold value. We become what we remember and what we forget. Often, we keep remembering the wrong things and forget the good things. The past we cannot change, but we all have a future.
“Love rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.” 1 Corinthians 13:6

Love is never glad when others go wrong or do wrong. Love finds no pleasure in injustice done to others.

Some may feel better when others get what is coming to them. Love does delight in fairness, and takes her stand for what is right, no matter the consequences. But love does not rejoice in the misfortune of others. Rather, love rejoices in the truth as it is in Jesus. Therefore, the believer who is actuated by the love of Christ is not gloomy, but positive and hopeful.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:7

To “bear” all things is to have Christlike patience (Rev 14:12). It is to exercise endurance in all things. (James 1:12)

To “believe” all things is to have full trust in God. It is to believe the best of others. It is to believe the truth and to reject error.

To “hope” all things is to inspire hope in others. Never consider any situation or person as hopeless.

“Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:7

True love never fails because it bears, believes, hopes and endures all things. Love never fails in its mission as a constraining influence to do all things that glorify God. It will never fail as the foundation of God’s government. Love will never fail to be kind, gentle, humble, and unselfish.