I Corinthians 13:4-8

Dr. Steve Viars July 18, 1992 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

- tonight we're going to continue our study of I Cor. 13 and
  Growing in Biblical Love
- we tried to emphasize two primary steps this morning that
  must be taken if we're going to grow in this important area

  - the first step comes from the meaning of the word Paul
    used here for love.

  1) Understand love's definition

     - (?INPUT) - What are some of the things the world is
         saying about what love is?

         - finding lasting love is hopeless
         - love is a reservoir of feelings that will probably
             dry up.
         - love is only possible when you learn how to be a
         - love is an absence of problems.
         - love is a relationship that makes you feel better

         - the point is - unless we're careful, the world's
            way of viewing things can surely rub off on us.

          - God's kind of love is "a choice of the will to
             sacrifice oneself to meet the needs of the other
             person for the glory of God."

    - so we must understand love's definition

- INPUT - what was the second step we need to take from
    verses 1-3?

    2) Make love a priority.

        - this can't be a subject we might get around to some
        - Paul says, without love, I am becoming nothing, I
           am nothing, and I accomplish nothing.

- tonight, we're going to study verses 4-8 where Paul says
    the third crucial step in growing in biblical love is:

I. Put On Love's Characteristics

    - let's read verses 4-8 (READ)

    - I'd like to begin tonight by having us think about some
      general observations on these verses we've just read.


    1) Paul lists 15 characteristics of love, 7 are stated in
         the positive (love is...) and 8 are stated in the
         negative (love is not...).

    2) Each of these characteristics (in the original
         language) are verbs.
- we're not going to take the time to do it tonight, but we
   could go through and retranslate all of these
   characteristics as active verbs.

- INPUT - for example, instead of saying "love is patient",
     we could say what? (love behaves patiently)

- the fact that they're all verbs is another example of how
   the Bible's view of love is so much different than the
   American view of love.
   - see, the Bible doesn't say - "love has this kind of
            - instead, the Bible says - "love does this kind
               of thing."
    - love is only fully love when it acts

    - that's why John said in I John 4:18 - "Let us not love
       in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth."

- what I'd like to do next is get the 15 characteristics "on
   the table." -- then we'll talk about how we're going to
   organize them.

- you notice in your notes that we have a chart that compares
   the way the characteristics are listed in three Bible
      - I'd like to do that for two reasons
         1) There's some definite value in comparing the way
             different translators viewed these words.

         2) It will simplify matters greatly instead of
             trying to clarify which word and which version
             we're talking about as we study them in a

- let's attempt to fill in the chart
    - I'll need help from folks who have the three different

- go through asking  - INPUT - the first characteristic in
     the KJV?  How is that translated in the NASB? etc.

- now, the next thing we need to do is talk about how we're
   going to study this list.
- I've organized these 15 characteristics aroung three main
     - the Scripture's inspired--my outlines are not
         - but this should help us as we study

     - I'd like to go through the list and tell you under
       which Roman numeral we're going to discuss each
       characteristic.  (go through sheet)

- one last thing we need to say about these characteristics.
    - I think our goal, as we study down through this list,
       is to identify that one particular characteristic, or
       maybe a couple of outstanding ones, in which I really
       need to work.
(develop - may need to get help from other family members,


1. Suffers          ______________            ______________

2. _________            Kind                    ___________

3. Envies _____       Not ____________         Does not ______

4. Vaunteth not      Does not ________        Does not ______

5. Is not ______     Not ______________       Is not proud

6. Does not behave   Does not act              Is not ______
   itself ________    ______________

7. Seeketh not its   Does not seek its         Is not self-
   _______            own                       ____________

8. Is not easily     Is not _____________      Is not easily
   ___________                                  angered

9. Thinks no ______  Does not take into        Keeps no _____
                     account a wrong suffered  of wrongs

10. Rejoices not in   Does not rejoice in      Does not de-
    ___________        _______________         light in evil

11. Rejoices in       Rejoices with            Rejoices with
    truth              ______________           ___________

12. Bears all         Bears all things         Always ______

13. Believes all      Believes all _________   Always trusts

14. Hopes all         Hopes all things         Always _______

15. _______ all       _________ all things     Always _______
- let's organize the first set of characteristics around this

A. Loving People Have The Right View of Themselves

    - Paul says, loving people:

    1. don't brag (they don't vaunt themselves)

        - we're talking about a person's attitudes towards
          their successes
             - their abilities

        - practically every Sunday when we're lining to come
           into the auditorium, one of our pastors looks at one of
           the brass players and says - "don't toot your own

         - now that's a little "pastor joke," but the bottom
             line is - some folks do just that--they toot
              their own horn.
         - they parade their own accomplishments.

    - Paul says--that's a very unloving thing to do.

    - now the Corinthians were notorious for that
       - they wanted the showy gifts so they could show off
       - everybody was vying for attention and approval

     - they were braggarts

     - INPUT - From our definition of love, what about
               bragging makes it unloving?  (emphasis on

- of course our model in this area, like in all the
   characteristics of love is our Lord.
- Paul said in Phil. 2:5 - "Let this mind be in you which was
   also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God,
   thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made
   Himself of no reputation...

    - see, can you imagine what it would have been like if
       you or I were the Lord, and we had come down from
       heaven to earth.
         - I think most of us would have done exactly
            opposite of what these verses say our Lord did.

- we would have "made ourselves of lots of reputation"
   - we would have made sire everybody understood exactly who
       we were.
         - demanded first class treatment
         - demanded to be addressed a certain way, and
            treated a certain way.

- but our Lord was the picture of Love--as a result--his
   focus was on others--He never bragged.

- closely aligned to that: loving people:

    2. aren't arrogant

        - they're not puffed up

        - let me ask you to look back at chapter 4, verse 6
          where Paul uses sarcasm to address this unloving
          characteristic of arrogance in the Corinthians.

        - READ 4:6-8

        - INPUT - in addition to our Lord, can you think of
           another Bible character who exemplified this

            John the Baptist - John 1:27 - "It is he who
             comes after me, the thong of who's sandal I am
             not worthy to untie."

             John 3:30 - He must increase, but I must

- Q - How are you doing on these first two characteristics?
       - loving people have the right view of themselves.
           - they don't brag and they're not arrogant.

       - would those around you say that you're loving in
         those ways, or are you always looking for ways to
         make yourself look good?

    - Let's take a brief diversion.

    - these concepts can also be applied to dating.

       - INPUT - what questions could these characteristics
           generate that would be very helpful in selecting a

           1) Does the person talk about him/herself all the
           2) Are they threatened when you accomplish
                 - Do they build that up or tear it down?

- another idea that fits under this heading is:

    3. aren't rude  (They don't act in an unbecoming way)
        - love has good manners

        - Input - how does this characteristic tie in with
             our definition of love?

        - now the Corinthians had violated this one as well.
        - we saw that a couple of chapters back when we
           studied their abuses at the Lord's table.

        - they didn't even love each other enough to wait
          till everybody arrived before they started the
        - they also weren't concerned about the fact that
            some folks didn't have enough to eat.

    - they were rude--they didn't have any manners.
    - my guess is that some of us men are going to have to
       work on this one.
- the last characteristic under this heading pretty much sums
   up the others: loving people:

    4. don't seek their own

        - see, look not every man on his own things, but
            every man also on the things of others.
        - loving people don't seek their own

        - have you ever thought about what words will be
          engraved on your tombstone?

        - here's one man who apparently didn't know much
          about biblical love.  His tombstone read like this:

          Here lies a miser who lived for himself
            and cared about nothing but gathering wealth
          Now, where he is and how he fares
            nobody knows and nobody cares!

- see, Paul is saying that loving people have the right view
    of themselves.
    - they don't brag, they're not arrogant, they're not
       rude, and they don't seek their own

- Can I ask you, does that describe you?

    - Are you a loving person because you have the right view
        of self?

    - if you are working on these areas - you'll surely stand
       out from the world.

    - the world has actually gotten to the place where
      many say that love actually begins with selfishness.
    - because of that, some of the most extreme forms of
        selfishness are now heralded as being acts of love.

1) Some are saying that abortion is really love.
     - it's a mother loving herself properly and realizing
       that raising a child doesn't fit into her plans.
     - some even pass it off as love for the child.
         - the mother wouldn't be able to raise it properly
           so the most loving thing to do is to take the
           child's life.

2) Others are saying that homosexuality is love:
    - where some, in rebellion against God and nature are
       saying, I must express my love in a way that pleases

3) Some say that divorce is loving.
    - I don't think we can work out our problems or I don't
      have the same feelings for that person so the best
      thing for everyone involved is to divorce.

- My point is that in our world, love has been so twisted so
   that the characteristics the Bible clearly describes as
   unloving are now heralded as genuine love.

   - is it possible that that's rubbed off on us?

   - I think John MacArthur's right when he says, "Often when
      we say 'I love you', what we really mean is, 'I love me
      and I want you."

    - Biblical lovers are those who have a right view of

- this next one I'd like to do quickly--but it is very

II. Loving People Have The Right View of Truth

    Paul says - biblical lovers:

    A. Don't rejoice in iniquity

        INPUT - what are some ways a person might "rejoice in

- of course the other side of that is:

    B.  Do rejoice in the truth

        INPUT - What are some ways a person can rejoice in
           the truth?

- let's think about one other question under this point:
    - INPUT - how does our relationship to truth affect our
               ability to love?

- so loving people have the right view of themselves,
    - they don't brag, they're not arrogant, they're not
       rude, and they don't seek their own
- they also have the right view of truth
    - they don't rejoice in iniquity, but they rejoice in the
- lastly,

III. Loving People Have the Right View of Others

    - under this point, I'm going to be condensing 9
      characteristics into 5--I'll try to make it clear which
      original word we're discussing.

    A. Kind - v. 4

        word literally means - "useful, serving, gracious"

        - while patience will take anything from others,
            kindness will give anything to others.

        - loving people have the right view of others -
           they're to others

        - does that describe you - are you a kind person?
            - do others think of you as kind?

        - our world gives us plenty of opportunities to be

            - Jesus said in Matt. 5:40-42 - And if any man
will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him
have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a
mile, go with him two. Give to him that asketh thee, and from
him that would borrow of thee turn not away.

- so our world gives us plenty of opportunities to be kind--
    question is--do we take them?

- of course the Scripture also has a lot to say about the
    kindness of our God.

    Romans 2:4, I Peter 2:2-3, Titus 3:4-6 are some examples

    - love has the right view of others because it is kind

    B. Envies not - v. 4

        - love is not jealous

        - envy can take two forms:

            1) I want what someone else has.

                - that envy/jealousy can be over practically

                - INPUT - what are some things a person may
                    be jealous over?

- so one form is - "I want what someone else has."

- the other form is:

        2) I wish they didn't have what they have.

            - that’s what happened in the parable of the
               laborers in Matt. 20
            - the men worked different periods of time but
                all received a day's wage.

            - the men who worked a full day looked at those
              who only worked a few hours, and instead of
              rejoicing at their good fortune--they were
              jealous--they envied.

- Proverbs 27:4 says - "wrath is cruel, and anger is
    outrageous, but who is able to stand before envy?"

- see, are you like that?

    - hey, maybe its just in some little ways:

        - "it must be nice..."
            - to have so and so.

        - the Bible calls that sin.
            - it calls it envy
            - it calls it a lack of love.


    C. Patient

       - I'm combining two phrases here
       - from the KJV - "suffers long" in verse 4, and "is
            not easily provoked" in verse 5

       - that first word is very picturesque.
           - makro/thumew
                - macro - much/long
                - thumew - passion/in this case - sinful

                - patience is holding off sinful anger for a
                  long period of time.

        - that’s what loving people do.
           - they're patient
           - they give others time to grow

           - they realize that God has been patient with
              them, therefore they should be patient with

- Jonathan Edwards was a great theologian and pastor during
    the Colonial period.
      - Edwards had a daughter who had a terrible problem
          with her temper.

      - one day a young man came to ask Edwards for his
          daughter's hand in marriage.

      - Edwards said, No you can't have her.  She's not ready
          to be married.

            - The young man protested - he said - "But she's
               a Christian, isn't she."

             - Edwards said - "The grace of God can live with
                some people with whom no one else could

- see, she wasn't patient.
    - she had no handle on her anger.

    - Prov. 22:24 - "Make no friendship with an angry man,
         and with a furious man thou shalt not go."

- loving people are people who are learning to handle their
     - they're patience (holding off any sinful anger for a
         long period of time)

- Is that the way others would describe you?

    D. Gives the benefit of the doubt

        - I'm combining here the phrases from verse 7 "love
          believes all things, love hopes all things, love
          endures all things."

        - love gives the benefit of the doubt

    - of all the characteristics of love, this is one of the
       ones we see violated the most.

        - here's some ways it's violated:

        1) by assuming you know what someone is thinking
           without getting any facts.

           - Are you that kind of person?

               - your spouse comes home from work and the
                 neighbor tells him a joke in the driveway.
               - he comes in with a smile on his face, and
                  you (having just gone to the beauty parlor
                  that day) - say; "See, I knew you wouldn't
                  like it--get that smirk off your face."

        2) by putting the worst possible spin on whatever the
            other person says.

            - husband's been working late but he gets home on
              time this night.
            - He comes home and his wife says "honey
              it's great to have you home tonight."

            - He snaps back - "Oh, quit nagging me.  You know
               It hasn't been my fault I've had to work late
               this week."

        3) by putting the worst possible interpretation on
            someone's actions.

            - this seems to happen a lot with extended family

            - people assume the worst without having any

            - a sister-in-law calls to wish a person happy
                 - wife gets off the phone
                 - husband asks - who was that, honey?
                    - (snotty) your sister!
                    - (sheepishly) what did she say?
                    - she wished me happy birthday
                    - what's wrong with that?

                    - she was rubbing it in - everyone knows
                       she's younger than me.

    4) accusing with no facts

        - wife comes home a little late -- the lines were
           long at Wal-Mart.

        - then she has to go through 20 questions
            - who'd you met
            - you're having an affair, aren't you
               (poor spouse wants to say - yea, with Sam
                 Walton himself!)

- the bottom line is - we need to see that as a lacl of love
- love gives the benefit of the doubt

     - it believes all thinks--it hopes all things--it
         endures all things

- lastly, love is:

    E. Forgiving

        - I'm taking that from "thinks no evil" in verse 5
          and "bears all things" from the beginning of verse

        - the KJV translation of "thinks no evil" may sound
          like that should go with the previous point.
            - but the word literally means - "does not keep a
               record of wrongs.
                 - it's forgiving

         - that’s what bears means in verse 7
             - it could literally be translated "covered"

        - see, love doesn't keep records

            - these are accounting terms.
            - the same words are used to speak of what God
                 doesn't do with us.

              Rom. 4:8 - Blessed is the man whose sin the
                   Lord will not take into account.

              II Cor. 5:19 - God was in Christ reconciling
                 the world to Himself, not counting their
                 trespasses against them.

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video