Love that Pleases God
“Seeketh not her own.” Love is concerned for others and is truly unselfish. “Is not provoked.” There is no Greek word for “easily” in the verse. The KJV lets us off easy by adding the word “easily.” A person governed by love still has feelings but he never has a loss of self-control. The ninth characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit is temperance or self control.
“Taketh not account of evil” (RV). That is a significant change from the AV. In Matthew 18:22 (in answer to Peter’s question in the previous verse), the Lord Jesus is discouraging keeping any accounts of evil by saying “I say not unto you until seven times: but until seventy times seven.” We should never keep account of evils, with a view toward paying back evil when we have the opportunity. “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression” (Prov 19:11, KJV). It may be all right to remember how someone has acted in order to better be able to get along with that person, but it is not right to remember things with an unforgiving spirit. There are some things that we should forget. There is a morality connected with our memory. Love is generous in forgetfulness.
“Rejoiceth not in iniquity” (or unrighteousness). Love does not get joy from the wrongdoing of others. In Hebrews 1:9 we read about our Lord Jesus, “Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows” (KJV). He loved righteousness with a perfect love, and hated iniquity with a perfect hatred. May the Lord help us to be more like Him. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2Cor 7:1, KJV). There is nothing like the fear of God to regulate our thinking. No one knows what we are thinking, except the Lord.
“But rejoiceth in the truth.” Love and truth rejoice together. What satisfies divine love satisfies divine truth. Righteousness and truth are linked together as well in Ephesians 5: 9.
“Beareth all things (RV margin: “covereth all things”), believeth all things, hopeth all things, and endureth all things.” The last four things all go together for they all end with the phrase, “all things.” Love does not unnecessarily expose. (Of course, love will expose anything that needs to be dealt with judiciously. The previous characteristic makes that plain.) “Believeth all things” does not mean that love is gullible, but that it puts the best possible construction on every word or action. What does love do when the facts show that it can no longer believe the best? “It hopeth all things.” Love hopes for the best. What does it do when its hopes are dashed to the ground? “Endureth all things!”
“And now abideth faith, hope, and love, these three, but the greatest of these is love” (v13). The Greek word for “now,” can have a temporal meaning or a logical meaning, bringing the whole argument to a conclusion as it does here. “Now these things have been shown to be” (Alford).
It is not 100% true that, at the Rapture, faith will give place to sight, and hope will be emptied in delight. It is true that we will no longer have the testing of faith, but there will still be room for perfect obedience and trust in God. It is true that we will no longer hope for our glorified bodies, for we shall all have them, but all of God’s purposes will not come to fruition the moment we have our glorified bodies. There will still be room for the exercise of hope as we look forward with joyous expectancy to the certain fulfillment of God’s plans. We will still remain finite and dependent on our infinite God. Therefore, faith and hope, as well as love, will abide eternally. Faith is trust, entire and undoubting. And hope is anticipation certain to be fulfilled. Hope will never cease to catch new perspectives of glory. The glories of heaven are inexhaustible!
“But the greatest of these is love.” Verses 1-3 show that gifts without love are valueless; verses 4-7 show that love, even without “gifts,” is still valuable. In verses 8-13, while gifts are transient, these three will abide, but the greatest of these is love. Some gifts are greater than other gifts but love is greater than the greatest gifts.
Not only greater than the passing things,
Also greater than the permanent things.
Not only the greatest thing on earth but also
The greatest thing in heaven.
Not only the greatest thing in time but also
The greatest thing in eternity.
Why is Love the Greatest?
Love is an end in itself. Faith and hope are means of attainment, but love is attained. Faith and hope belong to the race, but love is the prize. We cannot rest on faith and hope without them being diminished, because our eyes would be on the means instead of the end. But we can rest in love, as God Himself does (Zeph 3:17).
Love is sacrificial. We do not and cannot exercise faith and hope for another, only for ourselves. Our faith and hope in God brings us spiritual gain, but love is for others. We cannot bestow on others our faith or hope, but we can bestow our love.
Love is of the divine essence. Faith and hope are human, but love is divine. You cannot describe God in terms of faith or hope. God, the all-knowing and all-powerful, does not trust, and God, the all-possessing, does not hope. But you can describe God in terms of love for “God is love” (1John 4:8, 16, KJV). Faith and hope are things “to have,” but preeminently, love is something “to be.” “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (v16, KJV). What a privilege we have of manifesting the divine nature!
Considering chapter 13 we realize we have all come short, but we are thankful for the measure in which we know the preciousness of love, the practices of love, and the permanence of love. Realizing human failure, the apostle writes, “Follow after love”(1Cor 14:1, KJV). The word denotes a passionate devotion and a determined effort. We likely have not attained to the perfection of a love-mastered life. But we can and must “follow after love.”