1 Corinthians 13: It’s Not Just for Newlyweds!
We’ve all been there – watching the loving couple stare into each other’s eyes as they try concentrating on the pastor’s words. The bride can’t help but notice the million details of the room around her, while the groom does his best not to think of the possibility of fainting.
“Love is patient, love is kind.”
The flower girl yawns, while the ring bearer decides to wander off from his place after spying his mother in the second row.
“It is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered.”
A woman in the fifth row elbows her husband in the ribs and he puts his phone back into his pocket, wondering if his team will be able hold off their rival in the two minutes left in the game.
“It does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…”
The ceremony concludes, the joyous reception takes place, and the honored couple departs for their honeymoon. Returning home, they open wedding gifts, many of which quote the famous “Love Chapter” of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13.
But this famous chapter is meant for so much more than as instructions for newlyweds. Paul never specifically references husbands and wives in the passage. Rather, it is Paul’s message to all believers on what it means to love others in the church. We rightly apply 1 Corinthians 13 when considering the love of husbands and wives but must also let it be our guide with all our brothers and sisters in Christ.
For general context, Paul wrote these words in his first letter to the church in Corinth. Immediately preceding the “Love Chapter” his focus is on the workings of the members of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12-31). Our unique gifts, callings, and temperaments are intended to work together in one body for His glory. Yet, those differences may also be the very things that cause division. How does Paul resolve that tension? As he said, “I will show you a still more excellent way.” (1 Corinthians 12:31)
Love is Patient
Are you slow to see your own sin but quick to react when others sin against you? How do you react when you feel someone else has misinterpreted something you said?
Love is Kind
Do you seek good for others, looking to meet their needs before being asked? Or are you slow to volunteer help? Do you mention it to others that you’re thankful for them and appreciate their service in the church?
Love is Not Jealous
Are you content with the blessings God has placed in your life, or are you envious of the resources, positions, or giftings of others? Are you truly happy for others when you see them succeed?
Love Does Not Brag and is Not Arrogant
Is your only boast in Christ, or have you made an idol of being well-respected in the church?
Love is Not Rude (Act Unbecomingly)
Does your attitude and countenance reflect the joy of the Spirit inside you? Or have you made abrupt remarks or typed uncharitable comments on social media to other believers?
Love Does Not Seek Its Own
Do you find yourself thinking about “what’s in it for you” when helping others (e.g., reputation, being owed a favor, influence in the church)?
Love is Not Easily Provoked
Does your temper ever flare with family or others?
Love Does Not Keep a Record of Wrongs
Are there notes, emails, pictures, or other “records” you’re holding onto from when others have hurt you? What “trash” do you need to take out (things you need to delete, throw away, or move past)?
Love Does Not Rejoice in Unrighteousness but Rejoices in Truth
Do you find yourself drawn toward gossip about others in the church?
Love Bears All Things
Do you hold grudges, or are you willing to offer forgiveness when others sin against you, even if they show no remorse? Are you in constant prayer for the needs of other believers?
Love Believes All Things
Do you give other believers the benefit of the doubt, or do you make assumptions without having all the details?
Love Hopes All Things
Do you hope for the best when it comes to brothers and sisters in Christ, even those with whom you disagree?
Love Endures All Things
Are you steadfast in trusting the Lord’s work in you and in others, or are you quick to give up when things don’t appear to be going the way you wanted?
And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. (1 John 3:23)
As believers, we’re called to love one another and 1 Corinthians 13 provides a picture of what that love should look like. Look at the way in which you engage with other believers and seek to love others in the way we were first loved in Christ. 1 Corinthians 13…it’s not just for newlyweds!
John is the CEO of Knowing Jesus Ministries, a non-profit organization which exists to proclaim timeless truth for everyday life. He is married to Kati and has three children: Ashley, Jack, and Tyler.
- New Testament, Spiritual Disciplines, The Church