What does “Biblical love” look like?

20 March 2022 AM – 1Corinthians 13:1-13 – Love – Scott Childs
Introduction: One of the amazing creatures of Australia is the Lyrebird. They are fantastic mimickers of sounds. Because they hide, if you were to try to spot one in the wild, you would need to know what it looks like, where it lives, and as many other details as possible.
            As we seek to answer the question, “What does Bible love look like”, we too will need as much descriptive information as possible.
We know that agape love is sacrificially giving of yourself to meet the needs of another, expecting nothing in return, but what does it look like? It is treating others as you want to be treated. It is an action you choose, not an emotion, but how can we identify it?
Transition: Follow along as we look for biblical descriptive information about agape love that can help us live it in our lives.
1.        God gives love a primary place.
a.         Love is the greatest of all gifts (1Co 13:1-3)
1)         The Apostle Paul addressed spiritual gifts in 1Corinthians 12-14. In the midst of his discourse, he focused on agape love. Though I will use the word “love”, the KJV uses “charity” because love is giving to others.
2)         Without love, great language abilities are useless (v.1).
3)         Without love, the gifts of prophecy, understanding, knowledge and great faith are useless (v.2).
4)         If you lack love, giving all you own to feed the poor or even becoming a martyr profits nothing (v.3).
5)         These gifts and sacrifices were highly esteemed in the first century, but if done without love, they were useless. God looks at our motives. Sacrificial love for God and others must be our motive every time we minister for the Lord.
b.         Love will endure longer than all gifts.
1)         The cherished gifts would all end, even if done in love, but love will never perish. Note carefully v.8.
2)         Receiving prophecies from God would fail (i.e., cease, be put to an end).
3)         Speaking unlearned tongues or languages would cease (i.e., stop, quit).
4)         Divinely revealed knowledge would vanish away (i.e., cease, be put to an end same as #a).
5)         These prophetic, authenticating and revealing gifts that conveyed God’s mind part-by-part, ended near the close of the first century when the Bible was completed.
6)         The duty to glorify God through love will never end.
2.        God gives us many descriptions of love.
a.         We find many descriptions here in this chapter.
1)         Love suffers long. It is longsuffering or patient. This agape love, endures difficulties for a long time without giving up. Love puts up with unkindness, mistreatment, lack of thanks, unfulfilled marriage duties, disobedient children, and other unthoughtful actions.
2)         Love is kind. “The word used here denotes to be good-natured, gentle, tender or affectionate.” Barnes This kindness is the opposite of harsh. “Love is not caustic or sharp-tongued.” Willis Love shows acts of sympathy, compassionate gestures, and tender words, even when undeserved.
3)         Love does not envy. Envy is a desire to have something possessed by another. Love does not boil with envy, hatred or anger, but is made happy by the prosperity and happiness of others. Instead, love esteems others better than self. (Phil 2:3) “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4)         Love vaunts not itself. It does not boast or brag of self. One who loves does not seek praise for the loving acts he gives. He does not look for a pat on the back, an outward recognition, or even a “Thank you”. He simply gives what he can for the benefit of the one in need.
5)         Love is not puffed up. While the previous word describes outward pride, this word depicts inward pride. The heart of one who loves is not inflated with pride or arrogance. Her motives are pure, even in the depths of her heart.
6)         Love does not act unseemly. It does not behave in an improper, indecent, or disgraceful way. He treats others as he wants to be treated (Mt 7:12). The conduct of the one loving is as pure and proper as his motives.
7)         Love does not seek her own. She is not self-seeking or selfish. Selfishness is the opposite of love. The one loving is not giving to get something for himself. He does not think, “If I treat her nice, perhaps she will treat me nice in return.”
8)         Love is not easily provoked. It is not easily irritated or roused to anger.  When a child, spouse or acquaintance does things that irritate, love (the desire for their welfare) keeps calm. (Proverbs 15:1).
9)         Love thinks no evil. It is not bitter. It meditates nothing injurious. “Love does not store up the memory of any wrong it has received.” Guzik  Love thinks the best of others.
10)     Love does not rejoice in iniquity but in truth. The one who loves is not glad someone falls. He does not rub in failures. Instead, he finds joy in the truth of forgiveness and restoration. He stands ready to help, not to hurt.
11)     Love bears all things. Love covers all things silently. Love does not gossip. It conceals the errors and faults of others. This is not hiding crimes, but blemishes.
Spurgeon once said, “You must have fervent charity towards the saints, but you will find very much about the best of them which will try your patience; for, like yourself, they are imperfect, and they will not always turn their best side towards you, but sometimes sadly exhibit their infirmities.  Be prepared, therefore, to contend with “all things” in them.”
12)     Love believes all things. It chooses to believe the best of others, not the worst. Not gullible, but has faith in men.
13)     Love hopes all things. It waits with confidence. It trusts God will do what is best for his loved one.
14)     Love endures all things. Love remains loyal and abides faithful to the loved one. It bears bravely and calmly all things that may come.
b.         We find other descriptions throughout the NT.
Love is sincere, Rom 12:9.  Love does not harm others, Rom 13:10. Love edifies, 1Cor 8:1. Love serves others, Gal 5:13. Love is a fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22. Love sustains or endures one another, Eph 4:2. Love speaks the truth lovingly, Eph 4:15.
3.        Christ gave us a perfect example of love.
a.         He lovingly came to earth to help us.
1)         (John 3:16) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
2)         (2Cor 8:9) “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
3)         (1John 4:10) “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
b.         In love, Christ gave His life to save sinners.
1)         Jesus predicted His love to His disciples. (John 15:13) “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
2)         Christ gave himself for us in love. (Eph 5:2) “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
3)         Christ set His love as a standard for the love a husband must have for his wife. (Eph 5:25) “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Conclusion: Jesus said, (John 13:35) “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Love is the Christian trademark. Love is not a feeling; it is sacrificially giving to meet needs. We are to give love to other Christians, to our spouse, our children, our parents, our friends, our neighbours and to the lost in general.
We may do and say right things, but if we fail to love, it is all in vain. Unbelievers will not listen to the Gospel we share. Our children will rebel. Our spouse will be hurt. Friends and neighbours will distance themselves. We MUST act in love.
            As you evaluate God’s description of love, how does your love measure up? If your love requires work, ask God to forgive your failures and to help you make the needed changes.
Song: Take My Life and Let – 393