1 Corinthians 13 New International Version
1 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Paul here expounds on the teachings of Jesus about “love.” About agape love.
He teaches us that it matters not how good we are, how much faith we have or how generous we are in giving to the poor, if we do not have love, we are nothing.
Remember what Jesus said was the first and greatest commandment? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.” The next greatest commandment is “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love is a vital component of the believer’s life. It isn’t optional. It is not an elective. It is mandatory. It is a requirement that is to be evident in the believer’s life. If it isn’t, much soul searching and self-inventory is required.
The essence of agape love is goodwill and benevolence. Agape love does not refer to romantic love, as between a husband and wife, nor does it refer to friendship.
Agape love is patient, kind, not puffed up nor envious. True agape love knows no end.
Agape love is shown by action. God displayed his love, mercy and grace on the cross of Calvary where Jesus was crucified as a substitute for our sins. We did not deserve such a sacrifice, but God showed his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
We in turn, who accept God’s gracious love for us, are to love others with the same agape love, whether they are fellow believers (John 13:34) or bitter enemies (Matthew 5:44).
A great example of agape love is shown in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Good Samaritan is a lesson and example for all of us. We must constantly make sure that we would show the same compassion for fellow believers or bitter enemies.
Philippians 4:4-9 New International Version
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
In these verses, Paul gives instruction on living a life of peace and contentment.
Don’t worry about anything, he says!
Now we all know that this is much easier said than done. How can it be done?
Paul says that in every situation in our life we should pray and petition God with heartfelt thanksgiving.
In every situation.
We should thank God for the mountain tops and for the valleys.
Through a closer communion with God we can find that peace that surpasses all understanding. It truly will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Remember the saying, “we are what we think?” It is a truism that we should have imprinted in our minds. Or stuck on the refrigerator where we see it daily. What we think generally comes out in what we say and what we do.
Paul instructs us to think about the good things. Don’t think about and definitely don’t dwell on the bad things.
He says think about what is good, what is pure, what is lovely, what is worthy of our praise and what is commendable; think about these things.
Let your mind be consumed by what is good and what is constructive.
Naturally, we will have moments when bad things enter our thoughts. When we hear negative news or of someone’s misfortune; or we fear we might lose our job; or many other things.
When the brain receives bad information is when we need to pray and turn our attention and focus to petitioning God on behalf of others or ourselves; in praise and thanksgiving.
We need to turn to the Word of God for guidance. We need to commune with God on a higher degree or plane.
He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. He knows our problems, concerns or cares before we even petition Him.
As we pray, commune, read His word and worship, those thoughts that are not good, will soon be replaced by those that are good and the God of peace shall be with us.
God’s grace is truly sufficient for all our needs.
Fruit Of The Spirit
Galatians 5:14-26 New International Version
14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[a] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[b] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Paul again gives us great lessons in Galatians 5:14-26.
First of all, he re-emphasizes that the whole law can be summed up in a single example; You must love your neighbor as yourself. Sound familiar?
He also says “live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.”
Then he tells us that if we live and walk in the Spirit, we will exhibit the “fruit of the spirit in our lives.”
After reading these scriptures it is another good time for serious self-examination.
Do we harbor resentment, bitterness, anger or grudges?
One thing we know is that if we do harbor such feelings, they manifest themselves in our actions and words and are visible to those who are watching us.
We may think they don’t show, but they do.
Do we have biases? Do we think less of those who are not like us? Do we harbor ill will toward Democrats, Republicans, Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims or Jews? Or even the poor and unfortunate who need our help?
We should ask God to search our hearts and minds often, if not daily, and to help us remove any thoughts or feelings that are not characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit.
Remember, we are what we think; thoughts manifest themselves in words and actions.
Bitterness, resentment and grudges can fester and grow into hatred or other stronger emotions, if left unchecked.
We must be honest with ourselves as we do self-examination.
We cannot perform this important action with a Pharisaic attitude. If we start with the attitude that we have no faults, we will certainly find none.
Paul instructs us that if the Holy Spirit indwells in us AND we walk in the Spirit, we will exhibit the “fruit of the Spirit” in our daily life.
We will exhibit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
This is what people will see; those who look up to us, those who want to find Christ and those who are watching to find out if we truly are just like the Pharisees.
You may be the only “bible” that is read by some people in your small circle of the world.
What are they seeing? Who are you influencing?
Are we living “by the Spirit?” Paul says if we walk and live by the Spirit, we must behave in accordance with the Spirit.
If we are, I assure you that we are influencing more people positively than we will ever know.
If we are not, people are being turned away from God.
As you complete your spiritual self-examination, remember that there are many “fruit inspectors” who are watching you.
What fruit do they see?
Hopefully it is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.