Theme: The Standard of Love
In this week’s lessons we learn how Jesus perfectly carries out the biblical understanding of love, and how we, as his disciples, are called to show that same kind of love to others.
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13
Whom do you think of when you read these verses? “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Do you know anyone like that? Do you say, “My husband is like that?” Do you say, “My wife is like that?” Do you say, “My friend is like that?” Or do you pick out an influential person from history. Do you conclude that Gandhi or Mother Teresa was like that? No, that is not what we think. When you read a description like that you do not think of anybody except Jesus Christ. What is love? Ask Jesus. In him you find one who not only knows what love is like, but who is himself love.
Read these verses using the name of Jesus. “Jesus Christ is patient.” That rings true. How patient Jesus is with us! He teaches us something. We disregard it. We sin. But then he teaches us the same lesson again. Jesus is patient. “Jesus Christ is kind.” Does that not ring true, the kindness of our Lord? How kind He was to people. They treated Him badly. Yet He was kind, even though they mistreated Him. Even when He was being taken off to crucifixion He turned to the women who were weeping and had a kind word for them. When they were nailing Him to the cross, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). And when He hung upon the cross He was not thinking about Himself. He was thinking about the two thieves, His mother, and John.
“Jesus Christ did not envy; he did not boast.” He made the most extraordinary claims any person could possibly make. He said, “I and the Father are one.” But you know when you read that, that is not boasting. It is simple fact. “Jesus Christ is not rude.” “Jesus Christ is not self-seeking.” “Jesus Christ is not easily angered.” This is interesting. It says “easily angered.” No other term here has a qualification. There were things that did anger Jesus. Hypocrisy angered Him. People’s mistreatment of other people angered Him. Jesus was angry, but He was not easily angered. And when he was angered, it was always righteous and proper.
“Jesus Christ kept no record of wrongs.” “Jesus Christ did not delight in evil but rejoiced in the truth.” “Jesus Christ always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” That is what true love is, and it is that character which God desires to place within His people.
Is it not sad that so few of us even begin to measure up to that standard? When John the evangelist was writing to the churches of his day, he made love one of the tests of how you can know you are a believer. In his day some Christians were doubting their salvation. They had come under attack, and John tells them that there are three tests by which they can know they are Christians. There is the test of truth or doctrine. There is the test of obedience to the commands of Christ. And then, above all, there is the test of love. It is the third that he emphasizes, saying not only that they can know they are Christians by their love but also that they must love simply because they are. “Love one another,” he says. He says this three times over, and every time he does he gives a different reason.
Read over 1 Corinthians 13. How does Jesus match the definition of love according to this chapter? Provide specific examples from the Gospels?
What are the three tests of Christian assurance John gives in his first epistle? Which one is emphasized, and why?
Key Point: God is love. Therefore, if we are God’s children, something of the spiritual genes of our Father will appear in us. We will begin to love. We must love one another because love is God’s nature.
For Further Study: For a fuller treatment of how Jesus exemplifies 1 Corinthians 13, pick up a copy of Philip Ryken’s book, Loving the Way Jesus Loves, available from the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.