Biblical Advice On Love
1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13
I am going to do something today that I do not normally do. I don’t usually preach theme message. I don’t feel compelled to preach a message tied to every holiday that rolls around. I believe that Bible exposition is the way to go. But today, given that Valentine’s Day falls on Sunday, I thought I preach on the “Biblical Advice On Love.”
The thirteenth chapter of Corinthians is the finest description of love that exists. And although 1 Corinth-ians 13, in what is often called “The Love Chapter” - the love that is being described is not romantic love. The New Testament was written in Koine Greek, a rich language that has four different words that describe four different types of love. There are four major words for love: agape, phileo, eros, and stergo. Phileo (and Philos) (emphasizes the affection, emotion, a fondness one person has for another) occur only 54 times. Eros – (which refers to love between a husband and wife. It is more than sexual ecstasy because it also includes embraces, longing, and caring) and stergo – (which is primarily refers to love between parents and children) do not occur at all in the New Testament. Agape (the god kind of love) is the most common word for love in the New Testament occurring some 259 times. The word used in 1 Corinthians 13 is the word “agape,” and is best described as “unconditional love.” The love of which Paul speaks is of a behavior we exercise even when we do not feel loving or lovable.
First, What Love Is! (13:4a)
“Love suffers long and is kind…”
• Love is Patient. – “Love suffers long”
Love is described by two action words. Paul is not talking about love as some kind of warm affectionate feeling, but how love is seen in action. The first characteristic of love is that it is patient. The Greek word used here (makrothumei) is always used in the New Testament to describe patience with people rather than circumstances. It does not mean to feel patience but to act patiently. It is a word literally meaning to be inconvenienced, yet to endure it, and to not want to strike back when you are inconvenienced.
One of the greatest stories of patience is the story of Abraham Lincoln. One of Abraham Lincoln’s earliest political enemies was Edwin M. Stanton. He called Lincoln a “low cunning clown” and “the original gorilla.” He said, “It was ridiculous for people to go to Africa to see a gorilla, when they could find one easily in Springfield, Illinois.” Lincoln never responded to the insult, but when, as president, he needed a secretary of war, he chose Stanton. When his incredulous friends asked why, Lincoln replied, “Because he is the best man.” Years later, as the slain President’s body lay in state after his assassination, Stanton looked into the coffin and said through his tears, “There lies the greatest ruler of men the world has ever seen.” His animosity had been broken by Lincoln’s long–suffering, non-retaliatory spirit. Patient love won out.” [John MacArthur. MacArthur New Testament Commentary:1 Corinthians (Chicago: Moody Press, 1984) p.339]