What is the way love should be? What does real love look like? I know of a no more complete or more challenging definition of love than the one found in 1 Corinthians 13.
If you are reading the KJV, you might be a bit caught off guard by the use of “charity” instead of “love” here. Why did the translators choose that word instead of just saying, “love”?
I think perhaps the reason was this: when we hear the word “love,” we tend to think of feelings. But when we hear the word, “charity,” we tend to think of doing something for someone.
That’s a good thing to keep in mind as we talk about love. Love is more than a feeling. Love is first and foremost an action. That’s something that I hope you will see clearly as we work through this great description of love.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4–7)
There are fifteen descriptions of the way love should be in these verses. That’s a long sermon! I started thinking about how to deal with all those descriptions—nobody could remember every point of a fifteen point sermon—not even the preacher!
So I wrote them down on a piece of paper and started looking at them and drawing lines all over the page. The more I looked something happened.
Do you know what it means to render something down—like when you are cooking? You render the chicken fat down. Or, after carving the turkey, you take the rest of it and boil it in water to render it down to just the bone.
Well, that’s what happened here. As I looked at these fifteen descriptions, they rendered down to three ways that our love should be like: Our love should be patient, humble, and kind.
Now that is more memorable! We can remember that: patient, humble, and kind. Let’s work through the passage and I’ll show you how all fifteen descriptions of love rendered down to just three ways that our love should be: patient, humble, and kind.