August 17, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (1 Corinthians 13)

Submitted by Kate C. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

•       Think about the life of Jesus based on this passage.  Reflect on how
He perfectly fits the description of love.

One picture of Jesus that is representative of his love is Jesus
washing his disciples’ feet during the last supper. Foot washing was a
job kept for the lowest of the slaves and yet Jesus knelt down, took a
towel and washed each of his disciples’ feet, saying “unless I wash
you, you have no part in me.”  When I think about Jesus’ love for me
and how He teaches me to love others, I think of this story. Just a
few hours after the last supper, none of his disciples would stand by
him as he was bond up and taken to be questioned in front of the high
priest. In fear of their own safety, all of his disciples would have
fled the scene.  Soon after that Peter, one of the disciples closest to

Jesus would deny even knowing him, on three
separate occasions. Jesus while knowing all that would happen, still
served them as a slave would, even washing the feet of the one who
would betray him and hand him over to the high priest, Judas Iscariot.
Indeed Jesus’ love is patient and kind. He didn’t accuse them of being
cowards. He didn’t rebuke them for their lack of loyalty towards him.
He didn’t expose them of their true motives of following him, seeking
for themselves power and status. He didn’t become irritated and
frustrated at their lack of understanding of his identity or why he
has to die on the cross though he explained this to them over and over
again. He didn’t resent them for being who they are, just sinners like
me, selfish, self-preserving, following Him as long as it is
beneficial but the minute discipleship demanded cross bearing, none
was found standing by Jesus.  Jesus being in the very nature God was
not arrogant or rude, or boasting of his identity and power. Instead
he humbled himself to become a servant of all, not just washing his
disciples’ feet, but to the point of becoming obedient to death, even
death on a cross. He did not insist in his own way but fully submitted
to His will to His Heavenly Father, praying on the eve of his
crucifixion: “Yet not as I will but as you will.”  His love
demonstrated on the cross bore all of our sins–past, present and
future. His love demonstrated on the cross believes and hopes that one
day we will put our faith in what He did on the cross for us and be
saved. He endured all things, even death on the cross to save us from
sin. Jesus’ death on the cross ultimately proved that indeed his love
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures
all things.

•       What is the description of love according to the world?

The description of love according to the world is that love is not free.
Love is hard earned and no one will love you for who you really are.
So you always have to pretend, always have to hide your true self, and
never show your weaknesses to others. You have to earn love by
possessing qualities that appeal to the world: beauty, status, power,
success, intelligence, wealth, influence, or position. Being any kind of
a failure or having any kind of weakness in life immediately means
losing your worth and value, therefore no longer worthy to be loved.
In that way love is conditional, demanding and unforgiving. It depends
on whether you can produce, perform, whether you can graduate and earn
a degree, whether you can earn money, whether you can buy a house and
a car.

•       How does my idea of what it means to love and to be loved compare
with the description of love in this passage?

My idea of what it means to be loved is being approved of, that when I
produce and perform well, then I will have approval from people around
me and I feel loved and accepted. But the truth is that the reason why
I feel good is not because I’m loved but I feel good because I can
boast in what I can do. Essentially what I want is not love, but
praise from others so that my ego and pride can boast and feel good.
The love in this passage isn’t the kind of love that I desire. I also
do not desire to love others in the way this passage describes.  I
want to love only those with the ability and power to love me back. I
demand and insist from those that I profess to love to meet my
expectations and love me the way I want to be loved. I easily lose
patience when my expectations are not met. Frustration and resentment
would soon follow. I’m not willing to bear all things and to endure
all things to love. Loving sacrificially without any demands or
expectation of reward and pay back is not something that I am
naturally willing to do.

•       How is it possible for me to love others in this way (cf. Galatians 5:22-25)?
It is only possible for anyone to love others in this way because of
the power of God’s spirit in us. Galatians 5:24 states, “Those who
belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and
desires.” We can love this way because our sinful nature has been
crucified. As I think about Jesus’ sacrifice for me on the cross to
save me from sin and how ultimately it demonstrated this kind of love
that God has for me, I am inspired and empowered to love others in the
same way. It calls me to follow Jesus in living a cross bearing life,
to love without demanding payback or rewards and to love without
giving up hope. Though this doesn’t mean I won’t fail but the cross of
Jesus calls me to try again and again. Even if I fail I know that I am
still loved and accepted by God. So being loved this way by God gives
me power and desire to try again in loving others.

•       In what ways have I been loved by God, in terms of the specific way
this passage describes love?

I know that God has been patient and kind toward me in my life. As I
grow older and I can see more clearly what a sinner I am, I look back
to the past and I’m in awe of God’s patience and kindness towards me.
There were many times that I can remember that I was so selfish, so
clueless, so deluded, so loveless, so cold hearted and yet God did not
punish me as my sins deserve and did not treat me the way I treated
others. Instead He patiently and lovingly provided people in my life
who loved me with His love, who taught me God’s ways, who helped me
recognize and acknowledge the sins in my life, who helped me find my
way back to God. The older I get the more I experience God as someone
who bears all things. He continues to bear with me, with my sins each
day. He continues to believe in me, that I will and can change. He
continues to hope in me, that though I myself can feel hopeless, His
words continue to promise hope. He endures all things, all of my
rejections of him, all of my running away, refusing to think and
embrace the truth, all of the ways in which I put my hope in idols
instead of Him. He bears and endures with all of my sins each and
every day, not punishing me as my sins deserve, but endures, hopes and
believes in me, giving me chance after chance to repent and to change.

1 Corinthians 13:8-13
•       What are the “childish ways” that I need to leave behind?

I need to leave behind the childish way of looking at the world. The
reality is that everyone is suffering and being destroyed by the power
of sin and everyone is need of the gospel. It is so tempting to
believe the world to be another way, that everyone has peace and joy
and are enjoying their lives. But the reality is that there is a
spiritual battle going on and people’s eternal destiny is at stake.
The reality is that as a minster of the gospel, I am called to engage
in this spiritual war and win souls for Christ. The childish way in me
just wants to enjoy a comfortable, cozy nuclear family focused life
without struggles, stress, without thinking, without much concern for
others. But as a minister of the gospel I need to no longer speak,
think, reason like a child does, but become a soldier for Christ,
engaged to win this spiritual battle.

•       Given Apostle Paul’s description about the “now” and “then,” why is
love greater than even “faith” and “hope?”

Love is greater than even “faith” and “hope” because only love will
endure to the end. We have “faith” and “hope” now because we can only
hope for and put faith in what we do not see. But that day in heaven
our faith and hope will turn to reality. Faith will turn into sight
and prayer to praise. On that day faith and hope will be no longer
needed, but love will have endured. On that day in heaven we will get
to love God even more intensely than how we have loved God while on
earth. Our love for God and for one another will be made perfect that
day. Therefore love is greater than even “faith” and “hope.”

•       How does this provide the right perspective on the purpose of
spiritual gifts and the question of whether or not I have certain
spiritual gifts?

Since love is really what will last until the end and is also what
will be perfected in heaven, whether or I have certain spiritual gifts
seem to be a small concern. If I have no love, of what use are the
spiritual gifts? God gives us spiritual gifts so that they can be used
to love. The question that I need to ask myself is not whether or not
I have certain spiritual gifts, but whether or not I love.

PERSONAL PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me in this amazing way.
There is a sense that I will never really fully understand the true
extent of your love for me while on earth. But I already see how you
have never treated me as my sins deserve. You keep holding onto me,
as the hound of heaven pursuing me until I’m found and returned.
Thank you for enduring with me, enduring through all of my ugly pride
and self-focus, self-contentment, self-will, and all the ways in which I
enthrone myself and idols in my life in order to dethrone you. Through
it all, I have not received from you condemnation and accusation.
Instead I have been treated with patience and kindness from day one
until now. I pray that just as I have received this kind of love from
you I can love others with the same kind of love. Please renew my
heart and spirit and open my eyes to see the world as you see so that
I can be a channel of your love to the lost.

Submitted by Judy L. of Gracepoint Berkeley Church

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

  • Think about the life of Jesus based on this passage.  Reflect on how He perfectly fits the description of love.

Jesus perfectly fits the description of love: He was patient and kind.  He did not envy others, not their easy life or their position in Israelite’s community, or boast about who He is, the Son of God. He was not arrogant or rude.  He treated all people with respect and gentleness. He never insisted on his way but sought God’s way only.  He chose to live according to God’s plan, all the way to the end as to what kind of death he would experience.  He was not irritable (not easily angered), certainly not for himself when people trampled on his rights or when the disciples misunderstood him or did not understand his teachings or at their persistent unbelief. He only got angry when people were misusing God’s house.  He was not resentful (he did not keep a record of wrong).  He uttered, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”; he was not resentful even to the disciples who abandoned him.  Jesus did not rejoice in wrong doings (he sharply rebuked the Pharisees and teachers of the law for their religiosity), but rejoiced with the truth.  He bore all things, believed in all the words of God, hoped in all of us. He endured all things, the shame, mockery, cruel emotional and physical treatment by all people, even being forsaken by his own disciples, not to mention the crowd turning on him who shouted hosanna just a week ago.  He loved us in a perfect way…he loved us to the cross and stayed on the cross for us…because of his love for us and for the Father.

  • What is the description of love according to the world?

Description of love, according to the world, is that they have to be nice to me, fascinated by me, have to give me what I want and when I want it, let me do what I want, never have negative things to say about me, focus all attention on me; love is all about what I can get out.  Even when I do something for people, there is this sense of “they should notice and appreciate it.”  And there is always, “I love you if…” or “I can’t love  you because …” the world’s love is conditional.

  • How does my idea of what it means to love and to be loved compare with the description of love in this passage? 

Love described in this text is all outward, giving self away, death to self and alive only to the needs of others.  My idea of what it means to be loved is to make me feel good.

  • How is it possible for me to love others in this way (cf. Galatians 5:22-25)? 

It is only possible to love others in this way by crucifying our sinful nature and allowing the Holy Spirit to bear its fruit in my life–which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.   I have to crucify my old nature (as one belonging to Christ) and live by the Spirit.

  • In what ways have I been loved by God, in terms of the specific way this passage describes love?

God has been patient and kind in the ways He deals with me.  He did not release his wrath as I deserve.  He patiently waited for me to repent.  He treats me kindly, though I don’t deserve it, through others in the body of Christ.  He is grieved with my sin but he does not get irritated.  He is not resentful of me, of the ways I keep sinning.  He delights in truth, when I come forward and come to agree with him as to the depth of my sinfulness and my utter need for the cross and His righteousness.  He is not insistent on his ways; he gives me freedom to choose–to live by my old nature or by the Spirit.  He bears all things, even my many years of misunderstanding I have of him, despite many bible studies and messages and daily devotions.  He has been bearing my inattentiveness to His word, to His truth.  He believes in me, hopes in me and endures through my transgression, iniquity and sin.

1 Corinthians 13:8-13

  • What are the “childish ways” that I need to leave behind? 

The childish ways I need to leave behind is wanting to be loved, rather than thinking about loving others.

  • Given Apostle Paul’s description about the “now” and “then,” why is love greater than even “faith” and “hope?” 

Love is greater than even ‘faith’ and ‘hope’ because love never fails and never ceases.

  • How does this provide the right perspective on the purpose of spiritual gifts and the question of whether or not I have certain spiritual gifts? 

This provides right perspective because love is of mature people–something they are able to give as they deny themselves.  Love is giving forever and mature character is forged as we attempt to love.  It’s not for me but for others.  In seeking spiritual gift, I am wanting it for my self.

 

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