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bible study devotion

Devotion: the greatest of these is love

Dr. Andrew C S Koh

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Prayer

Heavenly Father, open our spiritual eyes to see, ears to hear, minds to understand, and hearts to apply and obey the truth of Your words. Help us engage in Your word for the transformation of hearts and renewal of minds, in Jesus’ name, Amen. 

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 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, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. Love is not a spiritual gift but it is the first fruit of the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Commentary

1 Corinthians 13 is the love chapter.

The Greek word for love is agape, which means selfless, sacrificial love, and unconditional love. Agape is the highest form of love. 

Without love, speaking in tongues is noisy and irritating. Without love, prophesy, words of knowledge, faith, selfless giving, and even martyrdom are valueless in God’s eyes. 

Paul spelled out the 17 characteristics of what love is, what love is not, and what love does and does not do. Love is patient, kind, not jealous, not boastful, not proud, not rude, not abusive, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not rejoice in evil and injustice, rejoices in truth, never gives up, always trusts, always hopes, always persevere, never fails. Even, prophecies, tongues, and knowledge will fail but not love. 

On this side of eternity, we do not have full revelation, perfect vision, and comprehensive knowledge. Our speech, understanding, and thoughts are only partial at best. We are works in progress being sanctified by the Holy Spirit into spiritual maturity. 

Comparing the three virtues of love, faith, and hope, the greatest of these is love.

Application

Love is the first and greatest fruit of the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23. Love covers a multitude of sins, 1 Peter 4:8. Love is the greatest commandment, horizontal love to others, and vertical love to God, Matthew 22:23.

Do you love the Lord with all your hearts, souls, and minds? Do you love your neighbour as yourself? 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23, NIV

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”

1 Peter 4:8

Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’

Matthew 22:23

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for teaching us to love. Help us to obey Your commandment to love You with all our hearts, souls, and minds and to love our neighbours as ourselves. Help us to love others just as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us, in Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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