Jesus Loves Me … A Different Way of Looking at 1 Corinthians 13
by Joseph Franks
In our culture, much is made of the Greek word eros. This is the “love” portrayed on soap operas and in rock videos. It is that sensual and erotic beautifully experienced in the bedroom and blasphemed in 50 Shades of Grey and The Bachelor. Eros-love is a wonderful act of worship when properly expressed within the bounds of marriage; it is a good gift of God. However, eros-love is not the fundamental definition and expression of love. Eros-love comes and goes.
In our culture, much is made of the Greek word phileo. This is the “love” expressed between friends as they show kindness, courtesy, helpfulness, and graciousness one towards the other. Phileo-love is also found in the healthy marriage. It is a wonderful thing when a husband and wife are best friends. However, this too is not the fundamental definition and expression of love. For even in the best of marriages, phileo-love comes and goes.
In our culture, not enough is made of the Greek word agape. This is the “love” expressed by a mother for her crying child at 2:00 am in the morning. This is the love expressed by a warrior giving his life for his fellow soldier and country. It is also that which is fundamental to the honorable marriage. Agape-love is a one-way, sacrificial, covenantal promise for the good of another. It is not fickle; it is not conditional; and it is surely not something one falls into or out of. Yes, this is the sort of “love” promised in our traditional wedding vows. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness or in health, until the point of death, agape-love endures to the end. Agape-love is portrayed for us in 1 Corinthians 13:
… Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends ….
So my friends, have you made such a commitment towards your spouse, and are you keeping your covenantal vows?
And, have you made such a commitment towards your Savior, and are you keeping your obligations to Him? This is what it means to come to Jesus as Savior and Lord. This is what it means to forsake all and prefer Christ.
I am sure the answer is “No.” All of us are fickle and selfish. We all fail to love spouse and Savior as we ought. The Law of Love is the primary Law, and it is one more Law that we cannot keep.
However, here is the really good news; here is the Gospel:
- Jesus love for me is patient and kind. (He is slow to anger and abounding in love; his yoke is easy; he is so gentle.)
- Jesus love for me does not envy or boast. (Though he is God and could rightly be self-absorbed, he continues to look out for my best interests. He does so even at the cost of his life.)
- Jesus love for me is not arrogant or rude. (He could continually throw my faults in my face. He could humble me again and again. But instead, with a loving gaze he disciplines, disciples, and works with me.)
- Jesus love for me does not insist on its own way. (His way is right, just, holy, and best. He is offended when I choose to rebel and be the prodigal. However, he allows me to flex my will and wander until I see my sinful folly, run back to him, and more willingly pledge to follow his glorious leadership.)
- Jesus love for me is not irritable or resentful; he does not rejoice at my wrongdoing. (Yes, he hates my sin, but he holds it not against me when I return and repent. In addition, he keeps no record of my wrongs for which he died. He does not enjoy pulling the list of my transgressions out of his pocket and throwing them in my face again and again.)
- Jesus love for me rejoices with the truth. (My Groom celebrates my glorious position with and in him; he delights in my progress in sanctification; and he dances with the angels over my ministerial work on his behalf.)
- Jesus love for me bears all things. (He bore my sin, Satan’s scorn, and the Father’s wrath; were there anything else to bear for me, he would do so, for I am his beloved.)
- Jesus love for me believes and hopes all things. (He knows the truth. He knows the future. He knows the promises of the Father, and he has an unwaivering confidence as he looks forward to the day I will be reunited with him in glory.)
- Jesus love for me endures all things; his love never ends. (He knows that nothing – temporal or spiritual – can separate me from his love. He has pledged his covenantal affection, and he never lies or changes his mind. No, my groom has made towards me a one-way, sacrificial, covenantal commitment to be my Lover forever, and ever, and ever.)
Therefore friends, we love him because he first loved us. Rejoice in the Gospel this morning, and let it affect your worship and your marriage all throughout the day.