READ: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
THINK: People fill roles of service and strive for great achievements for a variety of reasons: pride, duty, adventure, compulsion, responsibility, destiny. But when it comes to serving God and fulfilling His purposes among people the primary motivation must be love–for Jesus and for others. Apart from this, no other motive really matters. Only when we serve in love do we reflect God’s character and give others a compelling reason to follow Jesus.
RESPOND: What is “the most excellent way”? (See 13:1 note.) Why must godly love be the main motivation for exercising all spiritual gifts and ministries? Why is it meaningless to have, use and experience spiritual gifts apart from love? (See 13:2 note.) Why is spiritual knowledge and religious practice useless apart from love? What are some of the specific traits of godly love? In what ways do these traits demonstrate love for God and others? What does it mean that “love is not self-seeking” (v. 7)? What’s significant about the fact that love “keeps no record of wrongs”? In what way is love both a practical action and an ongoing lifestyle? (See 13:4-7 note.) How does growing in love make a person more like Jesus? In what ways does love always protect, trust, hope and persevere (v. 7)? Why and in what way does love never fail (v. 8)? When will perfection come (v. 10)? (See 13:8 note.) Why are spiritual gifts still needed now but not “when perfection comes”? In what way is our present view and perception of life like looking at a poor reflection in a mirror? What are the implications of love being greater than faith and hope? (See 13:13 note.) What does this reveal about whom God honors as part of His kingdom?
PRAY: Ask God to help you develop a more Christlike love and all of the traits that go along with it. Pray that you’ll never attempt to use your spiritual gifts or serve God’s purposes without demonstrating His love.
ACT: Look back over the list of traits that characterize true godly love (vv. 4-7). Consider if you are lacking any of these in regard to specific situations in your life right now. If so, make the necessary changes, which may involve contacting some people and settling some issues. Also, make a deliberate effort to apply and practice these traits in all of your interaction with people throughout the day.