1 Corinthians 13:4-8 AMPC Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. (5) It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. (6) It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. (7) Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. (8) Love never fails…
(Much of the content for this message comes from the book: Renner, Rick. Sparkling Gems From The Greek Vol. 1: 365 Greek Word Studies For Every Day Of The Year To Sharpen Your Understanding Of God’s Word, Harrison House Publishers)
Agape – This is the highest kind of love that loves selflessly and sacrificially.
- Agape love is not based on feelings; it is based on a decision.
It refers to a choice or a decision of the heart to love someone. It is used to describe God’s love. His love is the highest form of love.
Agape is a divine love that gives and gives and gives, even if it’s never responded to, thanked, or acknowledged. You could say that agape is a love that isn’t based on response but on a decision to keep on loving, regardless of a recipient’s response or lack of response.
Love is not self-seeking.
The Greek word for “self-seeking” means to seek after but was also used to depict a person who is so upset about not getting what he wanted that he turns to the court system to sue or to demand what he is striving to obtain.
Instead of taking no for an answer, this person is so intent on getting his own way that he will search, seek, and investigate, never giving up in his pursuit to get what he wants. In fact, he’s so bent on getting his way that he’ll twist the facts; look for loopholes; put words in other people’s mouths; try to hold others accountable for promises they never made; leap on administrative mistakes as opportunities to twist someone’s arm; or seek various other methods to turn situations to his benefit. This is manipulation!
There is no doubt that Paul had the image of a manipulating, scheming person in his mind when he wrote this verse. Have you ever met such a person? Have you ever encountered a man or woman who schemed and manipulated all the time to get what he or she wanted?
- Love is not scheming or manipulating, for this kind of behavior is dishonest and untruthful.
Scheming and manipulating to get your own way is simply wrong! If you can’t honestly state what you think or what you want, then don’t say or do anything. Speaking half-truths and white lies or operating according to a secret agenda is not the way that agape love behaves.
The Greek words in this text could be understood to mean: “…Love does not manipulate situations or scheme and devise methods that will twist situations to its own advantage.…”
Love is not touchy, fretful, or resentful.
After making this point, Paul then lists the eighth characteristic of agape love. He tells us that love “…is not touchy….”
When compounded together, the Greek portrays someone who comes alongside another and then begins to poke, prick, or stick that other person with some type of sharpened instrument. He continues to pick, poke, and stick until the victim becomes provoked. He’s finally had enough of this person’s relentless actions of picking, poking, and sticking, so he responds by violently and aggressively assaulting the offender. The result is a fight — a conflict of the most serious order.
Barnabas wanted to take John Mark on the next journey, but Paul was against it because John Mark had already proven himself unfaithful on an earlier trip. As they debated the issue, the words they exchanged must have been very sharp. This is why Luke wrote, “And the contention was so sharp between them.…” This is a translation of the word, letting us know that Paul and Barnabas came alongside each other in close debate and then began to poke, stick, prick, and jab each other with their words. The Greek language leaves no doubt that the conversation that ensued was extremely hot. In fact, this provocation was so severe that it disrupted their friendship and destroyed their partnership in ministry.
Acts 15:37-41 NKJV Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. (38) But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. (39) Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; (40) but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. (41) And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
The word used here is also the Greek word for vinegar. The fact that this is the word for vinegar lets us know that the words Paul and Barnabas spoke to each other were stringent, sharp, severe, sour, tart, bitter, and acidy. These words were so bitter that it left a sour taste in their mouths and their memories. As a result of these harsh words, these two men who had served God together in the ministry separated: “…Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; and Paul chose Silas, and departed…” (Acts 15:39,40).
I’m sure Paul remembers this experience very well as he warns believers everywhere that love is “…not easily provoked….” He speaks by experience when he tells us that this is not the behavior of love. Having reaped the consequences of losing his temper and saying regrettable, acidy words in a moment of conflict, Paul warns us that agape love does not behave in this fashion.
An interpretive translation of Paul’s words in First Corinthians 13:5 could read this way:
- Love does not deliberately engage in actions or speak words that are so sharp, they cause an ugly or violent response.
Love takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].
Then Paul lists his ninth point about love, telling us that agape love “…takes no account of evil done to it.” The Greek word used here is an accounting term that would be better translated to count or to reckon. It literally meant to credit to someone’s account. Before us is the image of a bookkeeper who meticulously keeps accurate financial records.
But in this case, the bookkeeper is an offended person who keeps detailed records of every wrong that was ever done to him. Just as a bookkeeper has an entry for every debit and credit on the books, this person painstakingly stores in his memory all the mistakes, faults, grievances, disappointments, failures, or perceived wrongdoings that someone has made against him.
Rather than forgive and let it go, the offended person has carefully maintained records of each action done to him that he deemed unjust or unfair. This is certainly not the way love behaves!
Psalms 103:3,10,12 NKJV Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
If you want to know how love behaves, look at the behavior of God toward you. Although God could drag up your past before you all the time, He doesn’t do that! In fact, after He forgave you (Psalm 103:3), God decided He wouldn’t deal with you according to your sins or reward you according to your iniquities (Psalm 103:10).
- Although He could remember your past mistakes if He chose to do so, God doesn’t and never will choose to remember them.
This means that God doesn’t keep records of your past forgiven sins! Once they are under the blood of Jesus, God separates them from you forever. You see, that is how real agape love behaves.
- If you are ever tempted to keep mental records of wrongs someone has done to you, you’re not giving to that person the same mercy God has given to you.
- Someone who has been forgiven as much as you have been forgiven has no right to keep a record of someone else’s mistakes!
Is there anyone you are holding hostage in your mind because of what you deemed to be an inappropriate action taken against you? If that person did wrong, it’s right for you to confront him in love. But once you have dealt with the matter, you need to release the offense and let it go — just as Jesus has released you from your past and is believing that you are now on the right track!
- If you have a hard time releasing people from their past wrongs, it’s a sign that you need agape to be released in your life.
The fact that you’re flipping back to that old record of wrongs again and again — bringing up past grievances that should have been forgiven and forgotten — means you are not perfected in love! Throw that diary away! Didn’t God throw away His diary about YOUR past?
Love does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
Have you ever secretly rejoiced when you heard that someone you didn’t like or someone you disapproved of had gotten into some kind of trouble? Upon hearing of that person’s difficulty or hardship, perhaps you were tempted to think, Serves him right! He deserves what he’s getting! After what he did to me and to so many others, he deserves a little punishment! If this describes you, let me tell you — this is not the way God’s love reacts to such situations!
Then the Holy Spirit convicted my heart, and I realized that rejoicing in this man’s trouble was not the way the love of God behaves. After allowing the Spirit of God to deal with my heart, I began to inwardly mourn over the condition of this man who had once been so mightily used by God. The entire phrase could be translated in the following way: “Love does not feel overjoyed when it sees an injustice done to someone else.…”
- Agape love simply doesn’t rejoice at someone else’s misfortunes.
Then Paul goes on to tell us that when someone else gains some kind of advantage in life that we have been desiring, love isn’t threatened by that person’s success but rather rejoices with his victory! This means the second part of this verse could be translated: “…Love is elated, thrilled, ecstatic, and overjoyed with the truth.”
When you see other people blessed — perhaps receiving a blessing or special attention that you have longed to receive yourself — are you able to truly rejoice with them? Does it thrill you to know that other people are moving upward in life?
- Love celebrates when someone else receives a blessing you have desired and is moving up with their life.
Or does it threaten you and make you sad when you see someone else receiving a blessing you wished was yours? How you respond to other people’s troubles and blessings reveals a great deal about your true level of spiritual maturity.
So, ask yourself: Do I rejoice when I hear bad news about someone who did me wrong in the past? Or does it break my heart to hear about the problems that person is facing? When someone steps into the blessing I’ve been believing for in my own life, am I elated for that person, or does it make me turn green with envy? It’s good to ask yourself these questions and to let the Holy Spirit deal with your heart about these issues. Why don’t you take a little time today to let God’s Spirit search your heart and show you if you can improve in these areas of love in your life?