1 Corinthians 13:1-13

When people come to Jesus for salvation, they receive spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit so that God might use them for His glory (1 Cor. 12:7). We each have been gifted in a special, unique fashion by the Holy Spirit.

The greatest, most essential gift that God gave His church is the gift of His love working in us and through us.

• His love was placed within us when we were saved by His grace (Rom. 5:1-5).

• His love, working in us and displayed one to another, is the greatest testimony we have to a lost world (John 13:35).


The whole idea of these verses is that love is distinct from and superior to anything we can be or do! Whatever we do, if it is not infused with and carried out through the love of God, it is a colossal waste of time.

A. Love is higher than the sensational (verse 1). You may be a great speaker, but that is no substitute for love. No matter how great your oratory, how beautiful your speech, or how brilliant your rhetoric, without love, you are simply a clanging cymbal.

B. Love is higher than the spectacular (verse 2). This verse mentions several spectacular abilities. But, even if we are able to do all of these things and do not have the love of God in our hearts, we are nothing!

C. Love is higher than the sacrificial (verse 3). We can give away everything we own. We can even give up our bodies on the altar of martyrdom, but if we do so without love in our hearts, it is a waste of time and it does not profit us one bit.


In these verses, Paul gives an in-depth description of love; he reveals all of its characteristics to us. These are truths that we need to be reminded of continually.

In these verses, Paul gives an in-depth description of love; he reveals all of its characteristics to us. These are truths that we need to be reminded of continually.

A. Love’s features (verses 4-6): Paul shows us the many sides of true, godly love. As if love were a great and brilliant diamond, he holds it up before us and reveals its many facets. As he does, the Person of God is revealed in each gleam of light from the surface of love.

1. Suffereth long (verse 4): This word means “patient endurance under provocation.” The literal meaning of the word is “long-tempered.” This characteristic of love reveals the truth that love does not retaliate!

2. Is kind (verse 4): This word refers to “active goodness that goes forth on behalf of others.” Genuine love is never hateful or mean; rather, it respects others and reaches out to them.

3. Envieth not (verse 4): True love is “not jealous” over the abilities, successes, or possessions of others. Instead of being jealous when others prosper or excel, love is pleased when they do well.

4. Vaunteth not itself (verse 4): Literally, this phrase means “does not make a parade.” Love does not brag! It does not draw attention to itself or to what it is doing.

5. Not puffed up (verse 4): Love is “not arrogant or proud.” No matter how great our talents or how spectacular our gifts, everything we are is the result of divine grace.

6. Not behave itself unseemly (verse 5): Love is never rude; it always treats others with compassion, consideration, and respect! Love controls the emotions. It is not friendly one day and rude the next.

7. Seeketh not her own (verse 5): True love is “never selfish and self-centered;” it is actively interested in what will profit others. It never looks at itself first but always considers another ahead of itself.

8. Is not easily provoked (verse 5): True love “keeps no record of evils done to it” but willingly endures all slights and injuries. This characteristic of love reminds us that love does not demand its own rights! It is willing to yield to the will of another.

9. Thinketh no evil (verse 5): Love “takes no worthless inventory.” Two thoughts come to mind here. First, genuine love does not attribute evil motives to people. Second, genuine love does not dwell on what others may have done.

10. Rejoiceth not in iniquity (verse 6): Love does not rejoice in sin, whether it is its own sin or the sin of others. Love hates sin! Love does not rejoice when another falls into sin!

11. Rejoiceth in the truth (verse 6): It rejoices when truth is proclaimed and when truth wins the victory. Love is glad for the truth, even when the truth hurts. Love is glad when truth wins the day!

B. Love’s fortitude (verses 7-12). These verses tell us of love’s staying power. Love is a remarkable thing that never waivers or fails!

1. Beareth all things (verse 7): Love patiently endures and overlooks the faults in others. The word “beareth” literally means “to cover.” This is how God loves us (Rom. 5:8).

2. Believeth all things (verse 7): Love always places the best possible interpretation on everything that happens. It does not always seek the most negative answer but believes that good will triumph in any situation.

3. Hopeth all things (verse 7): Love always expects the best possible outcome. Love refuses to accept failure. Love is the eternal optimist!

4. Endureth all things (verse 7): This is a military term and means that “love does not give up the fort”! It stands its ground and continues in spite of everything that is thrown against it.

5. Charity never faileth (verses 8-12): When everything else in this world has passed away, when everything that we hold in high esteem is gone, when knowledge and spiritual gifts no longer matter, love will still exist.


The Bible says that three things abide: faith, hope, and love. Yet, faith and hope are encompassed inside of love (verse 7). Therefore, the greatest of all things a believer can possess is love! If our love is right, faith is no problem! If our love is right, then our hope is in the right place. When our love is right, we are right!

What makes love so great? Well, love is the defining characteristic of who God is (1 John 4:8). When the Bible wanted to describe God in one sentence, it said, “God is love.”

To be like God, we must learn to love like God. When we can do this, our world will be altered for His glory.


For just a moment, take all the things you value today and lay them aside. Forget about your talents, your intelligence, your gifts, your potential, your achievements, and anything else you want to mention. Now, forgetting all those other things, how well do you love?

Is there room for improvement in your “love life” or have you figured it all out? If you need to talk to Jesus about how you love, do it now. Ask Him to help you love like He loves.