If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13

One of my biggest challenges as a homeschooling mother was teaching my children the parts of speech. I remember each of them in deep concentration, trying to distinguish between a noun and a verb. I gave them little reminders.

“If it’s something you have, it’s a noun. If it’s something you can do or be, it’s a verb,” I would tell them.

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul begins with love as a noun. He talks about it as something the Corinthians should have, like a possession. Love is an object that he states is greater than beautiful speeches, vast knowledge, and sacrificial generosity.

However, sooner or later, love must be described. To have something, you must know exactly what it is you possess. What, exactly, does that possession do in your life?

In verse 4, Paul begins to define love by the actions it produces.

Love is Patient

The first action love produces is patience. The King James Version describes it as “suffer[ing] long” (1 Cor. 13:4, KJV).

Wait a minute! Love is supposed to give me warm feelings. It is that sigh of contentment when I hug a friend, hold my newborn, or go on a romantic date with my spouse. Suffering is not something we naturally want to sign up for when we love.

When we think of God, we like to quote 1 John 4:8, “God is love.” That thought makes us smile. It gives us those warm feelings. However, if we keep reading, John shows us how God shows His love to us. He tells us that “he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10, NIV).

Immediately after that, he says,

“Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another”

1 John 4:11, NIV

Showing Patient Love

Jesus was wounded for us. When that person cuts us off in traffic, are we showing His suffering action of love?

Jesus was ridiculed for us. Do we respond with patient suffering when we are misunderstood or mistreated?

Even when Jesus’ disciples failed to understand, He responded with patience. And when they ran away in His hour of deepest need, His love waited patiently for them to return. How well do we suffer when our spouses have to work late or our children break curfew, again?

Love is Kind

Patient love is amazing, but we tend to demonstrate our patience with a sigh.

We want the other person to know that we are suffering long. Perhaps we even want them to feel a bit of guilt that we are so very loving. Our human love can operate while we are simultaneously snapping at the person we love.

Paul adds that patient love must also be kind. The word the Bible uses often to describe God is “lovingkindness.” Jesus was known for His kindness while He lived on Earth. The two words are interconnected: love and kindness.

Showing Kind Love

Kindness suggests a warm smile when we least want to offer it. To be kind is to refrain from saying the thing that will wound unnecessarily. Alternatively, kindness may be saying the hard things we do not want to say.

One translation of kindness is “to show oneself useful.”

How can we do anything but marvel at the kindness he showed us “while we were yet sinners” (Romans 5:8, KJV) by dying for us? If Jesus could bring us the Atonement we could not offer for ourselves, what can we offer of usefulness to those around us?

Love is patient. Love is kind. These are things for us to do and to be.

Devotion Written By

<a href="https://devotable.faith/author/jenniferlself/" target="_self">Jennifer Self</a>

Jennifer Self

Jennifer is a disciple of Christ, endeavoring to follow Him by sharing His story through her life and her words. She is working on her first book.

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