Love is always patient, Love is always kind, Love is never
envious or vaunted up with pride.
Nor is she conceited, And never is she rude, Never does
she think of self or ever get annoyed.
She never is resentful, Is never glad with sin, But always
glad to side with truth, Whene’er the truth should win.
She bears up under everything, believes the best in all, There
is no limit to her hope, And never will she fall.
Love never fails.
Now if there are prophecies, they will be done away with.
If there are tongues, they will cease.
If there is knowledge, it will be done away with.
For what we know is incomplete
and what we prophesy is incomplete.
But when what is complete comes, then what is incomplete
will be done
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child,
and reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up
my childish ways.
Now we see only a blurred reflection in a mirror, but then we
will see face to face.
Now what I know is incomplete, but then I will know fully, even
as I have been fully known.
Right now three things remain: faith, hope, and love.
But the greatest of these is love. (I Cor. 13: 4-13, ISV)
Though I understand all mysteries and have not love,
I am nothing (I Cor. iii. 2).
We are daily adding to our knowledge of the deeper teaching
of the Word; fresh beauties shine forth from the sacred page;
we seek increasingly rightly to divide the Word of truth, and
with this increased knowledge and light one might be led to
imagine that spiritually nothing much was left to be desired.
As we read the Scriptures, however, light and knowledge are
not put fort- most, love is first and greatest and must be in all
times the criterion of our true spiritual advancement. When
the Lord was questioned by the lawyer as to which was the
great commandment in the law, He replied:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with
all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great
commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt
love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments
hang all the law and the prophets (Matt. xxii. 37-40).
It should be observed that heart love comes before that of the
soul, or of the mind. It is comparatively easy to love with the
mind, to love in word, or in tongue, but to love in deed
and in truth (I John iii. 18) necessitates the activity of the
heart. When we notice the prayers of the apostle Paul in
Ephesians i. and iii., we find that while the knowledge of
Him and to know what is the hope of His calling are
prominent in the first prayer, love figures very largely in
the second, rooted and grounded in love, and to know
the knowledge- surpassing love of Christ. In the practical
section of Ephesians (iv.-vi.) the apostle exhorts the believer
to a worthy walk, and the central occurrence of the word
walk in that section is the exhortation to:
Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given
Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a
sweetsmelling savour (Eph. v. 2).
This high standard is the basis of the apostles appeal
in Eph. v. 25, Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved
the church, and gave Himself for it.
When the apostle would pray for the advancement of the
Philippians, although he desired them to have discernment
and ability to try the things that differ, these were not the
initial petitions. The Spirit of God knew only too well that
discernment without love is withering and harsh, and knowledge
without love but ministers to pride; therefore the apostle
was led to pray first and foremost for the overflowing of
their love, And this I pray, that your love may abound yet
more and more (Phil. i. 9).
In the Epistle to the Colossians the apostle speaks of putting
on the new man, and as a climax says, And above all these
things, put on love, which is the bond of perfectness (Col. iii. 14).
Let it be the earnest desire of every reader that our love
shall keep pace with our advance in knowledge, otherwise
our words must be written off as sounding brass, and our
knowledge as nothing worth. As space allows in subsequent
issues we hope to consider some of the aspects of this
chief of graces, and first of the Spirits fruits,
ABOVE ALL LOVE.
The prominence given to the manifestation of Christian love
calls upon every believer to consider his own relation to the
teaching of the Word on this subject. It may be of service
to us all if we endeavour to trace out some of the scriptural
definitions of this grace, and to note the contexts of its many
occurrences. Scripture speaks of love without hypocrisy
and love unfeigned, which makes us feel that there is the
danger among believers of a counterfeit love, a feigned love,
and causes all who have the truth at heart to desire a
knowledge of the real thing itself.
The thirteenth chapter of first Corinthians contains a most
striking summary of love, and to that chapter we will turn.
After having weighed in the balance and found wanting
loveless gifts, knowledge, understanding, zeal and almsgiving,
the apostle proceeds to tell us something positive concerning
love itself. The first statement which he makes is, love
suffereth long and is kind. The first quality which it has
pleased God to tell us regarding unfeigned love is that it
is longsuffering. Let it be ours at once to seek grace to
manifest more fully that which the Lord holds so high.
The word longsuffering is a translation of the Greek
makrothumeo. Makrothumos is composed of two words,
makros meaning long, or far, and thumos, the mind,
anger. Makros is translated far in Luke xv. 13 and xix.
12, into a far country; long in Matt. xxviii. 14, long
prayer. The idea of distance seems to be uppermost, as
in the first example.
Thumos. The A.V. translates this word 15 times by
wrath, indignation once, fierceness twice. Dr. Bullinger
in his Lexicon has a full note on the word as follows:-
Thumos, the mind, the spirit that is breathed out, an intense
passion of the mind . the animus, the working and
fermenting of the mind, the demonstration of strong
passion, which may issue in anger or revenge, though
it does not necessarily include it (p. 905).
Among the many graces which the apostle Paul detailed
as proofs that Timothy and himself were approved as the
ministers of God is found longsuffering.
In pureness, in knowledge, in longsuffering, in kindness,
in holy spirit, in love unfeigned (2 Cor. vi. 6).
It will be observed that longsuffering is linked to kindness,
and that both are connected with love unfeigned.
As always, it will be found that the apostle practised what
he preached. The reference to pneuma hagion (holy spirit)
in this verse leads us to Gal. v. 22, where fourth in the list
there given comes longsuffering. Love, joy, peace (these
are more directly connected with the work of the Holy Spirit),
then come three more which may be said to spring out of
these the first of which is longsuffering. Not only do we
find love and longsuffering linked in this cluster of spiritual
fruits, but in Eph. iv. 1-3 we find that the exercise of
longsuffering is a part of our walk, and also an important
factor in the keeping of the unity of the Spirit.
Walk worthy of the calling wherewith ye are called, with
all humility of mind and meekness, with longsuffering,
forbearing one another in love, endeavouring to keep the
unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
It will be observed that longsuffering is manifested by
forbearing one another in love. So important is it that
we should be made to understand that our walk demands
this exercise of longsuffering that we meet with a parallel
to Eph. iv. 2, 3 in Col. i. 10, 11. There, instead of being
exhorted to walk worthy of the calling, we are told that the
apostle prayed that we might:-
Walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in
every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
strengthened with all might according to His glorious power,
unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.
Longsuffering is twice linked with doctrine in 2 Timothy,
once in Pauls own case, and once in the charge to
Timothy (iii. 10 and iv. 2). Such is the character of true
Christian love, after all but a faint echo of that great
longsuffering of the love of God Who is merciful and
gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and
truth. If only believers everywhere exhibited this precious
characteristic, what a difference there would be. Yet even
those who are truly members of the one body need the
word of exhortation. If love suffereth long, should we be
so easily annoyed and angered at the waywardness
of our fellows? However great their offence against
us our attitude is clearly defined. We should exhibit all
longsuffering in the most aggravating case, or we have
not this grace of love in its highest degree.
One more qualification must be noticed before we leave
the consideration of the longsuffering of love, and that is the
kindness which glows through the patience manifested.
Just as Col. i. teaches us to have longsuffering with
joyfulness, so I Cor. xiii. teaches us that love suffereth
long and is kind. Love does not suffer long and grumble,
or use hard looks and begrudge the longsuffering.
Love suffers long and is kind. Love is ever ready to meet
the offender more than half way. Offended and outraged,
misunderstood and misrepresented, love still has no hard
thoughts for those who cause the pain. Let us examine
ourselves before the mirror of the Word. Does the
reflection cause us to fear that we are in danger of exhibiting
too much love yet? As we see our lack of longsuffering, our
impatience, our quickness to take offence, our unwillingness
frankly to forgive, let us acknowledge our failure. If we have
manifested longsuffering, yet that precious salve may have
sent forth an evil smell because of the dead fly of unkindness.
The Lord is kind unto the unthankful (Luke vi. 35); He was
indeed kind to us (Eph. ii. 7; Titus iii. 4), and should not we,
offenders as all of us are, should not we most earnestly pray
that we may have a little more of the love that suffereth long,
and is kind?
The preceding is in loving memory of Bob Davidson, who believed
the best in all.