Devotional Reading: John 13: 31-35
Lesson Scripture: Hebrews 13: 1-3; I Corinthians: 13
Lesson Aims: To define the love of God; to recognize its superiority over all things; and to begin to put aside those things that hinder us from loving.
Background: A believer’s faith can be observed in the manner in which they live, including their speech and in their attitudes. Thus for this month, Hebrews has taught us to be steadfast in determination, confidence, endurance and gratefulness. Today, we study the practical side of faith. Since believers profess to follow God, they must love like Him! God is love and anything that is absent of love isn’t from Him. The Greeks have three words for love – eros (to be in love with), philo (brotherly love), and agape (unconditional love). Our lesson today targets the latter two. Most of us talk about love, but do we practice it? We all want to be loved; but do we love? As believers become more and more like God, their love grows, mimicking Him in all of life’s arenas.
Lesson: The body of believers are to love and care for each other. This is brotherly love. Likewise, their hospitality should be shared with strangers. God gave/gives them grace and mercy; they have to extend it to others. Some believers have been and remain in jail. Prayers are to go up for them while their material needs are met. This expression of compassion pleases God because they are part of the community. In Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians, we must remember their to attraction of spiritual gifts. They thought that prophecy, speaking in tongues and knowledge were the most important. Paul is addressing this false notion. Love, in this passage is “charity” (sacrificial). Paul refutes them.
The Corinthians may be the most outstanding speakers, the greatest prophets and can fill shelves upon shelves of knowledge, but if they don’t love, it is worthless! The greatest acts of sacrifice mean nothing if they weren’t done in love. Any act of faith has to be motivated by love or it isn’t from God. “The reference to rudeness in verse 5 alludes to being out of order during worship” (Echoes Adult Teacher Commentary). When Paul states the “behaviors of love,” it becomes easy to understand how the community of faith should operate. Even when disagreements arise (and they will) a positive approach will advance the community. Otherwise, the community will not represent God. Love is the number one priority (vs. 8) because everything else will fade. At this point, believers know a little. As they mature, their knowledge increases. Mirrors (made of bronze) distort, however when Christ returns, all knowledge will be complete. There is no gift then greater than love. For receiving eternal life on the other side eliminates the need for spiritual gifts.
Application: For the next week, evaluate your interactions with people to determine if they are motivated by love. To love is not a sign of weakness, on the contrary; it is a sign of strength. Do you have some baggage that prevents you from loving? We represent God in all that we do. Can strangers see Him in us? Are we as willing to forgive others as God forgave us? Depend on Him to guide you to keep harmony.