Since Valentine’s Day is coming up, how about we dive deep into the great love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13?
1 Cor. 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 13:3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 13:4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 13:5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 13:6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 13:7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 13:8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 13:9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 13:10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
I’d say that 1 Corinthians 13 is broken down into 3 sections:
- The Preeminence of Love. 1-3. If I speak with tongues have not charity, I’m useless noise. If I have all these gifts and all this faith and have not charity, I am nothing. If I have a life of doing good and have not charity, it profits me nothing.
- Love described in its characteristics. 4-8. Over the course of those four verses, from 4-8, we have no less than 16 separate characteristics of love.
- The Permanence of Love, which never fails. 8-13, that now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three, and the greatest of these is charity.
Love vs. Charity
In the King James, the words “love” and “charity” are both used to translate agape in the Greek, and what we have in this chapter is agape love. It’s not that love and charity need to be distinct but that love and charity together helps us to appreciate the depths of agape in the Greek. Agape isn’t just love. It’s love and charity combined. I suspect that the translators using two different words isn’t simply for variance but also helps to give us depth of meaning to agape. It isn’t just love but it’s also charity, too.
Love, as defined by Webster is, “In a general sense to be pleased with; to regard with affection, on account of some qualities which excite pleasing sensations or desire of gratification… In short, we love whatever gives us pleasure and delight, whether animal or intellectual; and if our hearts are right, we love God above all things, as the sum of all excellence and all the attributes which can communicate happiness to intelligent beings. In other words, the Christian loves God with the love of complacency in his attributes, the love of benevolence towards the interest of his kingdom, and the love of gratitude for favors received.” I love that. No pun intended.
For “charity,” Webster says, “1. In a general sense, love, benevolence, good will; that disposition of heart which inclines men to think favorably of their fellow men to think favorably of their fellow men, and to do them good. In a theological sense, it includes supreme love to God, and universal good will to men. 2. In a more particular sense, love, kindness, affection, tenderness, springing from natural relations; as the charities of father, son and brother.” Charity is not simply “love in action.” Charity is the disposition of the heart that makes someone predisposed to act in love no matter the person or the circumstance. I’m ready to love you even though we haven’t met.
Agape love isn’t just love. Agape love isn’t just having great affection toward something. Agape love is also charity, which is not so much love in action as it is the attitude that produces the love in action, that pre-disposition in our hearts that inclines us to act in love toward everyone.
How about we explore each attribute of agape love together?
(1.) Charity Suffereth Long
Notice that the first, and arguably the most important, quality is how love suffers. Love can feel pain. Love takes on that pain. Love endures that pain. Love continues to love despite that pain of heart and mind. And not only does love suffer but love suffers long. The very nature of love itself is a willingness to continue to love through all suffering. If we’re going to talk about love operating here in this evil sin-cursed world, then the first and most important attribute worth pointing out is how love suffers long.
Also notice that love does not suffer forever. Love only suffers long. Longsuffering isn’t forever-suffering. Longsuffering has an expiration date. So, too, the longsuffering of love has an expiration date. That doesn’t mean that when you’ve reached your expiration date, you stop loving that person. You should always love everyone. This means that love isn’t willing to suffer forever.
What does that mean exactly? It means that if, for example, you are in an abusive relationship, you get out. Period. You should still love that person, but love is not forever suffering. Love has a long mind and a lot of patience, but love doesn’t have to suffer in that situation forever. It doesn’t matter what type of suffering it is, love suffers long. Love suffers all the insults, all the ignorance, and all the injuries inflicted upon us by others. Love suffers long through all of that. But love doesn’t suffer forever.
Why is love longsuffering? For the same reason Christ is longsuffering. Love suffers long because longsuffering always has an endgame in mind. Why does the Lord suffer long over our sins in this age of grace? Because “the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation” (2 Pet. 3:15). The longsuffering of the Lord isn’t meaningless. It isn’t without purpose. Longsuffering has an endgame in mind, and that endgame is the salvation of souls. The more He suffers long the sins of this world, the more souls that get saved.
Thus, love suffers long because love has goals. Love suffers long because love wants to see others get saved or to see believers mature in Christ and feel that joy and grace we all know God wants them to feel because of everything He’s made them in His Son. Love suffers long because love wants to see good things happen to everyone else.
Love suffering long is a firm mindset to the end. Love is vigilant. Love is determined. It is what Christ was here, actively loving while suffering all the evil, just as He suffers long in love even now in His exalted position in Heaven. But the Lord isn’t going to suffer forever. This age of grace will end. Then cometh judgment.
(2.) Is Kind
What does it mean to be kind? To be kind is to be “disposed to do good to others, and to make them happy by granting their requests, supplying their wants or assisting them in distress; having tenderness or goodness of nature; benevolent; benignant…”
Like charity, kindness is also a disposition of the heart. Kindness “proceeding from tenderness or goodness of heart; benevolent; as a kind act; a kind return of favors.” To be kind is not just doing good for people, but you’re also predisposed to do good for people. You have that tenderness of heart that moves you to act in kindness to others. The reason for this is that charity, agape love, is always focused on others. Thus, love is submissive to the needs of others. Love thinks of others. Love is concerned about others. Love is kind to others in that it’s helpful and creates no trouble.
I love Psa. 63:3, “Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.” The lovingkindness of God to us is better than life itself!
Because kindness is one of the many attributes of God and of Christ, whose life is manifest in us, we are to, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering…” (Col. 3:12). Because Christ is alive in us, we are to be of one mind in having the common goal of showing kindness to those who are outside of Christ and showing kindness to one another. Rom. 12:10, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another…” Eph. 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” We deal kindly with others forgiving them in love because God forgave us in love. And this includes our enemies.
Consider the fact that the Lord said in Luk. 6:35, “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” It is in the very nature of God the Father Himself to be loving and kind to His enemies. Just as God showed love and kindness to us when we were enemies to Him (Rom. 5:10), we are to show love and kindness to others even when they are enemies to us.
Also consider the great chapter about the virtuous woman. Pro 31:26 tells us that “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” Notice first that not everything a woman says is wise. It’s the virtuous woman who speaks wisdom, which is the wisdom of God Himself, which she learned from the Word of God. And in her tongue is the law of kindness. I suspect this means that the words which come from the lips of the virtuous wife are as a law, as instruction, teaching everyone who hears her about the very nature of kindness itself. Not just teaching kindness but also exhibiting kindness with the words she chooses when she speaks, the approach she takes about any given subject, and the tone she exhibits when she speaks, all of which is instructive to everyone about the nature of what it is to be kind.
And if in her tongue is the law of kindness, then she is also a woman of deep love, true agape love, true charity, because “kindness ever accompanies love,” because kindness springs from a true pure love. Love is the source from which comes all her words of kindness. When the words we use spring from a place of deep abiding love, then the natural result would be words of kindness, words that are instructive to all about the very nature of kindness itself. And this practice is called a law in her tongue, because it is constant, because her love is constant, which is guided by the wisdom of God in His Word. And this gives her a commanding power in all she says. Her kind words command respect. They demand kindness in return. And all of this is a distinguishing aspect of excellence in the virtuous woman. She doesn’t lord over her husband. She’s not a tyrant over children, nor controlling with her friends, but by all her wisdom from the Word exhibits agape love which results in true kindness in all her speech.
(3.) Charity Envieth Not
We’ve made the point on our podcasts that envy is different from jealousy. Envy is a sin, but jealousy is not. God is never envious, but He can be a jealous God. The same is true about the nature of love. Love can become jealous, but love is never envious.
So what’s the difference between the two?
Jealousy is a person who is “suspicious; apprehensive of rivalship; uneasy through fear that another has withdrawn or may withdraw from one the affections of a person he loves.” In the Bible, jealousy is used to explain how God feels when our hearts are turned away from Him by Satan unto some kind of idol (Exo. 20:5, 34:14). Our love to Him has been turned away to idols because of His rival, the devil, and as result, God becomes jealous. He is actually hurt by that loss of our love, and He is also concerned about our welfare being away from Him. Paul says in 1 Cor. 11:2, “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy.” What did he mean? He means he is “suspiciously vigilant; anxiously careful and concerned for” those Corinthians.
To be envious is a different thing. To be envious is “to feel uneasiness or discontent at the sight of superior excellence, at the superior reputation or happiness of another.” Envy is to feel or express disgruntlement about some else’s good fortune and to even hate that person because of their good fortune or perceived superiority. Envy is often a characteristic of unbelievers. Tit. 3:3 tells us, “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” The love of God never behaves this way. Love is never envious of someone’s wealth, or intellect, or spirituality.
The bigger point is that love doesn’t feel threatened or intimidated by anything. Love is happy about the superiority of someone else or the happiness of someone else. Love wants to see that! Love rejoices in the well-being of others, whatever that may be. Those who have God’s love in them rejoice at the happiness and well-being of others.
(4.) Charity Vaunteth Not Itself
So what does vaunteth mean? It means to boast, to brag. Love is not some dumb braggart. Love isn’t about self-promotion. Love doesn’t put itself on a pedestal. Love doesn’t make a vain display of its own inflated sense of self-worth. A love that brags is a love that’s full of itself, that loves itself above others, which isn’t love at all. In fact, Paul highlights in 2 Tim. 3:1-5 that it’s the sinful inclination of unbelievers to love self more than God and other people. And the idea of self love is so powerful that “lovers of their own selves” naturally turn into “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.”
How many times have we heard the world tell us we’re to love ourselves?
Some might say, “Wait a minute, Joel. Isn’t self-love a good thing? Doesn’t the Bible say to love thy neighbor as thyself?” Yes, it does. This is mentioned in the Ten Commandments and reiterated in Rom. 13:9-10. How was it that the Jews were to love their neighbors as themselves? This is a principle of identification both in the OT and in the age of grace. The Jews loved themselves in light of their relationship to God. They were to love what God made them to be as His chosen people in a covenant relationship with Him. Likewise, we are to love who and what we are in Christ, because of what God made us in His Son – dead, buried, and risen with His Son, all that we were in Adam now gone, literally freed from sin’s dominion, forgiven of all trespasses, a new creature, an heir of God with a seat of glory in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
We love the new man, and the new man never brags.
(5.) Is Not Puffed Up
Whereas the previous principle of “vaunteth not itself” is about how love looks at itself, this principle is about how love looks at others. Love never looks down on other people. Love is never arrogant nor condescending. Never ever.
We know that we deserved nothing we have received by His grace. Thus, every person, whose heart is full of the knowledge of His grace is also full of the love of God and that heart should also be full of humility. True humility arises from a sense of the depths of your spiritual ruin before you were saved compared to the heights of His grace afterwards. Gratitude and humility are the result. To understand the depths of the riches of His grace to you is to see the depths of His love for you, which inevitably keeps you in a permanent state of humility. A renewed mind is a humbled mind.
Paul had a lot to say about arrogance, about being vainly puffed up in our fleshly minds, but he wrote even more about humility. Php. 2:3, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” He also said in Col. 3:12-14, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” Php. 2:5, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…”
We have seen the humility of Christ on display in the Gospels. So it would go without saying that the nature of love itself is never ever puffed up evidenced by the life of Christ Himself. God is love. God is humble. Thus, love is humble.
(6.) Doth Not Behave Itself Unseemly
Those carnal Corinthians had all kinds of unseemly behavior going on in their church. It wasn’t pretty. But love never acts out of place or character. Love observes decorum and good manners. Love is never rude. Love is never bullying. Love isn’t depraved in its thinking. Love isn’t carnal in thought or deed. Love is never insulting, and love is ever willing to become all things to all people for the sake of their edification.
I suspect that “unseemly” might also be fake, insincere, and hollow compliments. Love doth not behave itself unseemly. Love doesn’t offend. Love doesn’t sing hollow praises. Love exhibits the finer ways of modesty, gracious speech seasoned with salt, unobtrusiveness, sincerity, and meekness, which is strength under control.
(7.) Seeketh Not Her Own
True love is not selfish. True love does not strictly care for one’s own physical or spiritual welfare only but also of others. Love is never satisfied except in the welfare, in the comfort, and in the salvation of everyone else. True love is a Christian who looks past himself to the well-being, to the salvation and edification of others.
Love seeketh not its own. Love is expressed in its devotion to others over itself. 1 Cor. 10:33, “Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.” Gal. 5:13, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Php. 2:3-5, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”
(8.) Is Not Easily Provoked
Love keeps a person from being easily triggered because love will have nothing to do with anger. Love is not made bitter or given to wrath. It is generally said that, though a man may feel himself highly irritated against the sin, he may feel tender love for the sinner. If love be provoked in any manner, it should be provoked to extend more love.
All of the attributes of love we’ve covered up to this point leads to a lessening of anger in your life. Love that can suffer long, that can stay focused upon kindness, not indulging in envy, always ready to forgive, never full of itself and arrogant, nor rude, will result in a slowness to anger, which is an attribute of God Himself (Psa. 103:8), who is love itself (1 John. 4:8). A love that can easily give way to anger is a weak love that thinks of self first, which in turn struggles to forgive, and becomes rude. Where love gives way to anger, all those other bad attributes come to the surface.
A verse my grandfather quoted me was Jas. 1:19-20 “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” I guess I talked a lot, didn’t listen, and threw tantrums.
(9.) Thinketh No Evil
Love directs your thinking. This entire chapter is about how the principles of love should guide all of our thinking in our walk of faith. Love isn’t simply what you do. Agape love also directs the way you think, which has been renewed through the study of His Word. Just as, after you fall in love with someone, your thinking and actions are guided by love toward that person, the same should be true after you become a believer, because through the study of His Word, your thinking and emotional life should gravitate toward love for everyone, both believers and unbelievers alike.
Ask yourself, “How can I act in love toward that person? What can I say and do to show love to that person?” Why? Because love does not think of evil. Love does not imagine bad things happening toward someone else. Love doesn’t spend its days obsessing about how some person did it wrong. Love doesn’t wish for evil or hope for evil upon someone. Love thinketh no evil. Love “does not impute evil.” Love wants good things, gracious things, to happen to people, whether they deserve it or not. Love doesn’t imagine or desire bad things happening to unbelievers. Love wants that unbeliever to become saved. Love wants that babe in Christ to grow in grace.
I’m reminded of 2 Cor. 10:5, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” If God is love, and your mind is guided by the principles of love, then you are naturally bringing your thoughts into captivity unto Christ because Christ’s own thoughts likewise operate on these very principles of love. Because He is love. To think in ways that embody the principles of agape love is to think like Christ.
The ways of love guiding your thinking and walk of faith would not be possible if it were not for how God made us in His Son. The moment we believed, we became dead, buried, and risen with His Son. The old you is gone forever, which literally freed you from your imprisonment to sin in the flesh. You’re now free from that bondage to sin. This means you are free to operate in ways you couldn’t before. You’re now free to think and live in all the ways and in all the fullness of agape love. You’re free to have a heart thriving on the principles of love with all of your actions guided by those principles of love, which would naturally mirror that life and thinking of Christ.
(10.) Rejoiceth Not in Iniquity
Love never celebrates sin. Love doesn’t rejoice in knowing or seeing sin take place, which is in stark contrast to the mindset of the lost. Rom. 1:32, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” Love will have no part of that.
(11.) But Rejoiceth in the Truth
Truth causes love to celebrate with joy. Love wants to come to church because love rejoices in truth. Love wants to study the Scriptures because love rejoices in the truth. Love wants to have fellowship with other believers talking about the things of the Lord because love rejoices in the truth. Why? Because truth causes love to rejoice.
Rom. 12:9-10, “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another…” Consider also 3 John 1:3, “For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.”
(12.) Beareth all Things
Love is the strength that bears the weight of all burdens. Love has its own source of strength from within, which is in us, the life of Christ Himself, whose strength is made perfect in our weakness even when it comes to loving others. He helps us to love when we cannot do it on our own. Love can still shine in the circumstances of our lives when it might not seem possible. Love acts according to its own nature in all circumstances, guided by the Spirit, exemplified by Christ, graced to us by God the Father.
Knowing these principles of love conditions you to perform well even when you’re weak. Love can bear the wounds and pressures brought down upon us only through the renewing of our minds and the putting on of the new man. A strengthened inner man (Eph. 3:16) through study produces a love strong enough to bear the weight of the worst that life can throw at you. Communion with God in Word and in prayer, plus meditation on His Word, sustains His love in us through all the trials of life.
We made the point earlier that agape love is the opposite of selfishness and of self-seeking. Love, instead, seeks the good of others, which may well also be the way love is able to bear all the worst moments in life. Seeking the welfare of others helps us to bear all things, which was exemplified by Christ in His love for us. Christ thought of the object of His love. He visited the object of His love. He suffered for the object of His love so He can exalt the object of His love. True love for us made Christ able to bear all the sins of all mankind for all time. That is a love that is beyond all words.
I’m reminded of Eph. 5:1-2, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And 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.” Rom. 15:1, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”
(13.) Believeth all Things
Does this mean that we’re to believe everything we’re told? Of course not. I’d suggest that love is ever ready to accept truth, especially in His Word. This is in stark contrast to those during the tribulation of whom Paul wrote in 2 Thess. 2:10, “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”
(14.) Hopeth all Things
Two views about this. One: there is the sense here that one hopes for the best. One anticipates the restoration of a saint or the salvation of an unbeliever. Two: there is also the sense that love has hope, a sure confidence, in all the promises of God. Rom. 8:24, “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” How can you feel love if you have no hope?
(15.) Endureth all Things
Remember how we began with love suffering long? We made the point that the suffering has an expiration date, not the love. We also talked about how love is the strength that bears the weight of all things. Love conditions you to perform well even when you’re weak. Here, we find that love endureth all things. Love maintains consistency throughout all suffering. Love never loses its power. Love continues no matter how bad the circumstances may get. Even though love has all strength to bear all things, even though the duration to suffer is long, the point in this expression is that love keeps going at the same level through to the end.
Love will carry you through all the storms of life, because love itself can suffer long, bear everything, and love can maintain consistency in power through everything, exemplified by Christ who bore the weight of all our sins on that cross of Calvary.
(16) Charity Never Faileth
Consider also that God is love (1 John 4:8,16). The very fact that love exists in the world is because God is our creator. He is love, and it’s a reflection of His nature that love exists, which makes Him the source of all love, which makes Him love itself. God isn’t loving. He is love itself. We may talk about how love is a choice for us, but God never chose to love you. He will always love you because He is love itself. That’s who He is. That’s part of His nature. Love is the eternal active energy of His essence.
As God Himself is without end, so His love is without end. As no man can measure the heights and depths of God, so no man can measure the heights and depths of His love. As God is eternal, so His love is eternal. Jeremiah wrote in Jer. 31:3 “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love…” Can not this love of God also be said of us? Interesting to me that the Lord wasn’t talking about Israel in that verse. The Lord said thee, the singular you. I have loved YOU with an everlasting love. This, to me, is one of the most powerful verses on His love. This is a statement that speaks to the very nature of His love. His love is an everlasting love because He is an everlasting God, and love is the very essence of His nature.
His love isn’t temporary. His love isn’t conditional. His love doesn’t fluctuate. His love doesn’t stop. His love doesn’t require any effort on His part, nor does He view His love as something separate from Himself or His nature, as if it’s something He has to make an effort to do. He makes no effort to love because He is love itself. His love is a holy signature attribute of His divine nature, and we know that God’s nature never changes.
He said in Mal. 3:6, “For I am the Lord, I change not.” We find in Heb. 13:8, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” His love for us never changes because He never changes. God’s agape love is a permanently fixed state of being. His love is as eternal as He is. The Greek word translated “faileth” has the idea of falling powerless to the ground, like the picture of a fading flower with falling petals. His love has a limitless eternal energy to it. There is no beginning to His love nor an end to the presence of love in Him because God IS love and God IS eternal. And if God is eternal and God is love, then the edifying power of love will never die.
We also find in 1 Cor. 13:13, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” Consider the abiding characteristics of these three qualities: faith, hope, and love. Love is the only one that abides forever. There will come a time when the Lord comes for the church in the Rapture. That will for us be the end of hope and the end of faith, because after that, we shall forever be with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:17). But love will abide forever. Love never faileth. Love never ends. Love is eternal because God is eternal, and our permanent eternal state is to abide in His love.
Love is Abiding Eternal, the Greatest of All.
Php 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; Php 1:10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Php 1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
We were built to love. Not just a little bit of love but abounding in love yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment. God’s purpose in His design for us as new creatures is that we abound in overflowing genuine love, not only for Him but also for one another and for all people. And growing in the knowledge of who He is and all His wisdom, allowing His attributes to become our own enables us to grow in love and gives direction to the emotional lives He always intended for us to have, which is a far greater love to experience than if we were left to our own devices. All that hatred we’re seeing out in the world right now is to be contrasted by His love abounding in us toward all of them. Increasing in the knowledge of God is to increase in the nature of love itself, to learn how love operates to help us walk in His image.
The ways of love, which is the ways of God Himself, determines how we deal with most afflictions and problems in life. Love itself grows inside of us when we grow in our spiritual knowledge of Him from studying His Word. If you want love to grow, you must have one-on-one time with His Word because there is synergy at work with increased spiritual knowledge and discernment by which love naturally grow in us. Love grows within the framework of our spiritual knowledge. Abounding love in us is rich in spiritual knowledge and discernment. Love is something we must nourish and feed and allow to grow inside of us as we study His Word.
It’s as if Paul is saying in these verses in Philippians 1 that he wants our love to be like a constantly flowing mighty river that is being perpetually fed by the living water of His Word, which then makes that river swell and increase until it fills the banks and then it floods all the land. The only way that river can overflow is if it’s fed by His living water. The more we learn, the more our love increases inside of us, and at the same time, love itself also teaches us, which improves our judgment.
And what is the result? Verse 10. “That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.”