1Co 13:4-7 “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
Poets and songwriters have made a good living for years writing about the idea of love. In man’s twisted reasoning, songs about adultery and fornication are often referred to as “love” songs. Poems about man’s view of love are often tragic and heartbreaking. Even religions often have a distorted view of love, attaching all sorts of requirements to the giving of love to others. We need to take a good long look at Paul’s description of true love that is found in Jesus Christ.
To begin with, love that is rooted in Jesus is patient (suffereth long) and kind. These two attributes of charity go hand-in-hand, each enhancing the other. The love of Christ draws us, where the human notion of love often seems to try and push us toward someone else’s purpose. True love does not use coercion but instead relies on its benevolence to draw the object of that love.
It is interesting to note that in the next few phrases every negative (both the word “not” and the word “no”) come from the Greek form that is referred to as the “absolutely negative adverb (see Strong’s).” In other words, there is no way or circumstance where charity, or the love of Christ, is ever going to demonstrate itself in such a manner. The love of Christ has no need for envy seeing that it is the very mark of discipleship. We are not walking in that love if we have envy toward another.
Charity has absolutely no need to boast of itself or to be arrogant. The pure love of Christ is its own proof, and anyone who is blessed to experience it in his or her life can only stand in wonder that such a love as this exists. The real love of Christ has no need to behave rudely or to be selfish. When our own self-esteem is at the core of our efforts, we can be assured that we are not behaving charitably.
When we labor with a person or a situation and do not see a change quickly, we tend to get frustrated. A low frustration level should be a warning to us that we are not being charitable, because charity is not easily provoked (exasperated). How kind and loving has our Savior been with us in teaching us lessons over and over while assuring us that He loves us? This is the love that He calls on us to have for each other: otherwise, how can we forgive seventy times seven (Mat 18:22)?
Charity thinks no evil. The Greek word translated as “thinketh” means “to take an inventory” according to Strong’s. The word translated as “evil” means “worthless, depraved, or injurious.” In other words, charity does not keep score. We all know someone who can call up every wrong (real or imagined) ever done to them by another. We are failing to forgive when this is the case, and forgiving is very much like Christ.
While unrighteousness does not bring any happiness to charity, the truth is a source of gladness. Charity quietly covers (see Strong’s definition of “beareth) a multitude of sins (1Pe 4:8), and allows us to entrust every facet of our being to the love of Jesus Christ (believeth all things). Through charity we are able to have confidence (hope) in everything that God tells us and to persevere (endure) until we see their fruition.
May we seek charity in all that we do and say, for this is honoring to our God and Savior!