In the previous chapter, it talks about how each of us play a part in the body of Christ. We are gifted with spiritual gifts that unite us as one body of Christ. This chapter emphasizes the necessity of love in all that we do as children of God.
NECESSITY OF LOVE (vv. 1 – 3)
Do not have love, I am a sounding gong… I am nothing… I gain nothing.
Paul uses five spiritual languages as illustrations to tie in with the previous chapter. Paul looks at three elements, which are what the Corinthians say, know, and do. The Corinthians were obsessed with impressive speech and interested in the idea of speaking in tongues, but Paul is stating that even if you are eloquent and can speak any language, without love, it is just white noise. He wants their words and actions to mean something because love is what authenticates spiritual people as God’s.
THE MEANING OF LOVE (vv. 4 – 7)
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (v. 7)
Paul lists the traits of love that the Corinthians were struggling with. He is showing what love looks like. Paul is providing a perspective on love that is so beautiful, yet seemingly beyond human experience. These are characteristics that should control their thoughts and actions. He is encouraging them to portray the love that Christ shows unconditionally. He concludes this passage that love will never stop having faith and will never lose hope because there is a prize at the end: eternal life.
THE GREATEST IS LOVE (vv. 8 – 13)
Love never ends (v. 1a)
Paul begins and ends the passage with the same idea that love never ends. Paul recognizes the limits of the Corinthians’ humanity. He is acknowledging that all their gifts, skills, knowledge and actions are temporary gifts compared to love that never fails or ends (vv. 8 – 10). Paul uses verses 11 – 12 to emphasize their growth in their faith leads them to fully know God and the gift that awaits after death. Paul ends by saying “love is the greatest” because it will still exist even Jesus comes again because our faith and hope have been fulfilled.
Missions teaches you a lot about love because you are immersed in another culture that is not like your own. Keep in mind that even if you do not speak the same language as the people you are ministering to, the language of love speaks louder than any words you can say. When you speak from love that you have received from your faith in God, it becomes noticeable to the point that people who are unbelievers are curious. Remember that all that we do, say and know means nothing without love and that love speaks all languages.