Expository Thoughts on the Love Chapter and Marriage


The Love Chapter and Marriage




            When I became a candidate for the Doctor of Theology degree I had a little bit of trouble getting my proposed thesis approved by the board. In fact it took quite a bit of convincing to get them to let me undertake the desired task. The proposed title of my project was “Seeing Marriage Through God’s Eyes.” The candidate review board was concerned that I already had a doctorate in the field of Christian Counseling. My proposed project, in their minds, ran the risk of deteriorating into a marriage counseling project instead of a theological project. Then I would fail in my quest for what many consider the most respected theology degree. But finally I was able to convince them I was not headed in that direction at all and did have something to say in the matter that would add to the theological understanding of the place marriage held in God’s divine counsels. Curiously, the adviser assigned to oversee me and my project also had a doctorate in counseling and many years experience as a counselor. I suppose they considered this additional qualification on my adviser’s part would serve to qualify him to keep me on the straight theological narrow way and prohibit my straying into the broad way of lapsing into a counseling mode.

            My troubles were not over. I think most people who have ever gone through the process will tell you that pleasing those who are overseeing your progress can be painful in itself. But, even at the end I ran the risk of having my project rejected or penalized. One of the big reasons was the quantity of the product greatly exceeded the “minimum” standard for the amount of words such a thesis should contain. Most doctoral candidates complain they have problems coming up with enough words. I had just the opposite.  But I fought for it and won. I was quite thrilled and amazed with the total work. It had three main divisions, each divided into seven sections or chapters, each of which consisted of five pages before I double-spaced them for presentation. I remember expressing my amazement that the work itself had turned out to be a message in its numerical construction without


my intent. I don’t know whether that impressed the board so much, or whether it was my admission that two more such works would still not exhaust the subject. But I also admitted I was not wise enough to produce the additional works.

            I have told you all this to get to the point of talking about one thing that was omitted from inclusion in that dissertation. I did not, and could not have, endeavored to consider the great love chapter in the light of marriage and God’s purpose within His unique creation mankind. The great love chapter is of course 1Corinthians 13. As I was meditating upon it and contemplating sharing it with the reader’s of the Daily Thought, my wife read it through to me several times. As some in our church have noted she is a wonderful Bible reader, but I have to also admit a peculiar preference for the sound of her voice. Listening to her, the idea came to me was that I should write the passage down in such a way to promote its proper reading so the best effect can be gained from meditating upon its words. Here is my attempt to do that:


Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels,

and have not charity,

I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.


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,

and have not charity,

I am nothing.


And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor,

and though I give my body to be burned,

and have not charity,

it profiteth me nothing.


Charity suffereth long, and is kind;

charity envieth not;

charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly,

seeketh not her own,

is not easily provoked,

thinketh no evil;   


Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things,

believeth all things,

hopeth all things,

endureth all things.


Charity never faileth:

but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail;

whether there be tongues, they shall cease;

whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.


For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

But when that which is perfect is come,

then that which is in part shall be done away.


When I was a child,

I spake as a child,

I understood as a child,

I thought as a child:

but when I became a man,

I put away childish things.


For now we see through a glass, darkly;

but then face to face:

now I know in part;

but then shall I know even as also I am known.


And now abideth faith, hope, charity,

these three;

but the greatest of these is charity.




Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”

1Corinthians 13:1

            There are many lessons to be drawn from the first verse of the love chapter. But I think that all things that might be understood will never reach their true relevance in the life of the follower of Christ if they miss the true importance of the Word here translated as charity. It is the Greek word agape as many people well know. As a matter of fact the word has become so well known it has entered the English language to appear in some dictionaries. But that does not mean the value of the word is understood or can be appreciated from reading the rendering of its meaning, even in some Greek dictionaries.

            It is a word for love that is not overly used in our Bible, but some of the places where it occurs are very telling according to its true meaning. And, while I have much misgiving about the Greek Septuagint and its true origin, one of the things that was done right in my opinion was its rendering of the Hebrew for love as agape in certain key places in the Song of Solomon, God’s love manual. But the most important evidence is from the Received Text, which uses the word agape to express the love of God the Father toward the Son and the love of the Son and Messiah toward men, particularly in the Gospel of John.

            So we learn that love or charity expressed in the love chapter is the highest form of love from the study of its biblical usage. It is the love, impossible to those who know not Christ as their Savior, though they might possess lesser forms of love as a reflection of the fact that they were originally created in the image of God. That’s right! I am saying an unsaved man is incapable of agape love because its very essence flows from the Throne of God to be spread abroad by the witness of those submitted to His Lordship in the world.

            How often have preachers and teachers of the Word admonished young people to not marry outside of the Christian faith? And, how often has that advice been dismissed and disobeyed! But here is the reason. No man is capable of the kind of


love he should have for his mate unless he has had within him kindled the spark of godlike love by the transforming work of the Holy Spirit as He works sanctification in the life of each believer. Much sorrow in the lives of young Christian men and women would be avoided and much pain never experienced had they harkened to the teachings of Scripture and godly counsel present on the subject of matrimony.

            And, that is not all. Not every person within the household of faith can be depended upon to have godlike love, this charity. Perhaps it is for some that sanctification is not yet far progressed and the Lordship of Christ well established in the soul. But for some it is because they are plain and simple hypocrites. It is possible to have the sham or outward appearance of spiritual fruits, but within not have, and not be allowing the Fruit of the Spirit to be realized within one’s life. No one suffers from hypocrisy more than those closest to the hypocrite. That sounding brass and tinkling cymbal that is out of tune with God. I pity the man or woman married to such a person.

If you were to find yourself that person, devoid of this greatest of all types of love burning in your breast you should cry out to God Almighty to work His instilling miracle within you. There is a void in your heart that needs this love to be filled, a yearning in your being to be able to reflect the love of God toward your Creator, Savior, and Redeemer. And a need to spread this love abroad from near to far, especially to those you love dearest. Your very Christian growth is on hold for what you lack, and those you hold dear pine for this grace to be manifested in you. Do not hold back from what God would instill in you. Godly love!



The Personal Necessity


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, and have not charity, I am nothing.’

1Corinthians 13:2

            Perhaps, like me, you have had problems with the above statement in the Love Chapter? Though I had read these words countless times, I have to admit I was always left ill at ease with what was being said in verse two. The question in my mind was how could a person have the blessings described and be lacking in the love that flows through the believer from the Throne of God? It took three things to get me to the point where the Lord could show me the answer to the question:

(1) I first had to get sick to the point where I thought death was at hand.

(2) Then when I began to recover my wife challenged me to consider why I loved her, not accepting any reasoning on the subject that had ever been offered before, and,

(3) I had to re-encounter the verse and pray that the Lord would give me the understanding that had never come before.

            When the light of understanding dawned in my heart and mind it came with all the piercing and overwhelming suddenness of a lightning strike in close proximity. I was stunned with the reality and at the same time the simplicity of the answer. But then later when I reflected on what the Lord had shown me, He gave me an understanding also of why it is my eyes could be so blinded to the truth of the passage. And this was important too!

            The answer was that the gifts the verse refers to are gifts from God, given to some people for service to the Church. (Ephesians 4: 1-12) They are not fruits of the Spirit alive in the breast of the individual.(Galatians 5: 22-25) Many a church, as has many a wife, endured much sorrow because they had a leader with many wonderful spiritual gifts who yet lacked those personal qualities that come from being a man having the love of God permeating him through and through.

            Why did it take so long for me to see this? Because eyes are blinded by the way the world conditions us to think. When a


man meets another man he usually seeks first to find out what the new acquaintance does, and equates that with what the person is. Based on what a man does worth is assigned as well. That is the conditioning of the world. God is concerned with what a person is, because in that quality the real depths of a man’s relationships are formed. Contrary to what I once read an Anglican bishop argue God is into relationship! And relationship of worth requires godly love to flow in the breast of the individual believer.

            Godly love flows in three directions. It flows down from God to man. Then it flows upward in man’s adoration of God. And finally, it flows outward from the man to others. And who is to be closest to a man’s heart? It is to be his mate, flesh of his flesh, in the grand mystery of God’s choosing. She who is the closest to his heart is to be the first and prime recipient of godlike love flowing through the man. If a man is deficient in this most intimate of relationships, he is distorted in all his other relationships no matter what fine qualities he might possess.

            You will notice I write this as a masculine challenge. And, it is certainly not because woman are not often deficient in the faculty of godly love. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But, dare I say it? Godly love is more essential in the male than in the female. There are two reasons and I will give you the less reason before the greater:

(1) In the Scripture the love of men shown toward the wives is given the greater emphasis and reinforcement. We men are directed to love our wives more often than wives are told to love their husbands. Of the reasons why this is so much could be said, but not now.

(2) In the marriage, Scripture presents the husband with the duty to love the wife as Christ loved the Church. A parallel is drawn between the love of a man in marriage for his wife and the love of Christ, the Bridegroom, for His bride, the Church. Godly love is therefore a personal necessity to properly carry out man’s function as God’s representative upon earth in the Church Age.

            I consider godly love a personal necessity to both men and women if they are to be what our Lord intended them to be. The love from God seeks to instill itself fully in each Christian breast.


Buying Standing


And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”  1Corinthians 13:3

            When I was growing up I attended a number of different schools. In each there were always some child trying to buy friends. Sometimes the struggle to buy friends cost them a great deal in relation to their circumstances. For instance, the kid who sacrificed his lunch money to try to buy friendship traded hunger for the hope of acceptance. The price paid in relative terms was high. When I became an adult there were still people about who had not matured in understanding you cannot buy friendship.

            In Acts chapter eight a man called Simon thought money could buy him the secret of giving the Holy Ghost. It seems clear he saw a need to have this power to increase his standing among some people, Christians particularly. Peter said to him:

Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.”        Acts 8: 20-22

You might think what Simon tried to do was different from the examples in our key verse. But Simon tried to buy a power over God and the examples in 1Corinthians 13:3 have to do with trying to compel God’s friendship or blessing by deeds. Something is lacking as was in the case of Simon.

            In the history of the Christian faith many people have done things, even sought martyrdom, so God would have to be their friend. The kid in the schoolyard tries to buy friends and fails, and the examples in the key verse try to buy God with the same result. Friendship is a thing that cannot be bought. It must be freely given. But wonder of wonders, the person who does the very things mentioned out of agape love, resulting in sacrificial service according to the will of God for their life always has the approval of God. And without that love those very same acts profit them nothing because they lack the most important thing.

            So it is a man might sacrifice himself for his wife and


family, even unto death. But without the agape love beating in his breast how strong do you suppose might be the legacy of his sacrifice on the lives of those he gave himself for? There are those who have grown up in abject poverty after a daddy worked himself to death that became mean and grasping, determined not to suffer a similar fate. Then there are those who grew up in similar circumstances who became great humanitarians or ministers of the Gospel. The only difference between them being the legacy of the spirit the lost parent also left to them. The good of the godly was remembered and emulated and love was shed abroad in succeeding generations of godly legacy.

            It is my belief that we are living in the last division of the Church Age characterized by the Letter to the Church of the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:14-22. Of this church the Lord says:

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

Revelaton 3: 15-18

Can you by reading the text spot the fundamental thing that is lacking in this church? They are lacking in godly love, and they are content with a less than perfect love toward God. In their complacency they believe God should be pleased with their actions and accepting of them. They think they can buy God’s acceptance in the things of this world and yet be spiritually deficient towards God.

Parents learn, sometimes too late, they cannot buy standing with their children through the abundance of things. Children want their love and presence. God wants to bestow upon us His presence in a day to day walk with Him. And, too often, we want to substitute the things of the world instead of the daily relationship with God and with our mates that both so desire to have with us. Going about things the wrong way can cost us more than we may realize were paying, all without leaving a worthwhile legacy.       9.

The Negatives Charity Lacks


Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;”

1Corinthians 13: 4-6

            In order to discuss the negative attributes godly love lacks they must be sandwiched between positives related to fruits in the Spirit inspired walk of faith:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.”                     Galatians 5:22-26

            Close inspection of the negatives reveals they are antithetical to the fruits of the Spirit and those who hold to such negative attributes find them a barrier to spiritual growth and to the development and exhibition of godly love in the believer. More, should you also consider the Ten Commandments and consider they embrace a man’s duty to God; to others; and to himself, find that by close comparison no one can have these negative attributes ruling in their lives and not violate each of the three categories which the Ten Commandments compass.

            Likewise, the negative attributes given are companions, mutually supporting one another. Try as I might, it has proven impossible for me to recall a single individual who has exhibited one of these negative qualities that did not have the others in some degree. Though people might put on a front, pretending to be what they’re not, the negatives always reveal themselves, especially when their self-image is threatened.

Unhappy the person wed to someone governed by these failures of mind and spirit. For those who play a role before the rest of the world will expose their true nature to their mate. Consider this. Such self-serving attributes defy the oneness of holy matrimony and demand of their partner the evil spirit of selfishness be catered to, depriving the life partner of due benevolence God planned to flourish in the union of man and woman.           10.

Let us consider the meaning of the words of the negative attributes:

Envieth – The single place in Scripture where the word “zeloo” is translated “envieth.” The understood definition of the word includes the following;

3)      to burn with zeal

3)      to be heated or to boil with envy, hatred, anger

3)      in a good sense, to be zealous in the pursuit of good

b) to desire earnestly, pursue

3)      to desire one earnestly, to strive after, busy one’s self about him

2) to exert one’s self for one (that he may not be torn from me)

3) to be the object of the zeal of others, to be zealously sought after

c) to envy

All the negative meaning of the word should be considered present in 1Corinthians 13: 4.

Vaunteth – Again this is the sole instance of the word “perpereuomai” being translated as “vaunteth” and it is an excellent interpretative choice. It can be well defined as “employing rhetorical embellishments in extolling one’s self excessively,” a common failing in this present world.

Puffed up – Of the six times the Greek “phusioo” is used and translated “puffed up” five occur in the first letter to the Corinthians, and the sixth is in Colossians 2:18. The meaning of to inflate, blow up, to cause to swell up

3)      to puff up, make proud

b) to be puffed up, to bear one’s self loftily, be proud,

should be the proper understanding of this word.

Behave unseemly – The word “aschemoneo” has a parallel use in 1Corinthians 7:36. A person who behaves in this way disgraces themselves and often another.

Seeketh her own – The combination of words invokes the idea of craving and striving from selfish motivation above all else.

Easily provoked – Easily provoked “paroxuno” contains the idea of making sharp, sharpening, stimulating, spurring on, urging; irritating, provoking, arousing to anger

3)      to scorn, despise

2) provoke, make angry

3) to exasperate, to burn with anger                                     11.

Thinketh evil – All it takes to fit into this characterization is just to consider something of a bad nature as the common mode of thinking, feeling, and/or acting. Those base, wrong, and wicked thoughts are corrupting and known to Him who knows all men’s hearts. Five outcomes of allowing wicked thoughts of this nature occur without and within. They are troublesome, pernicious, injurious, destructive both without and within, and baneful. All of this is not ministerial oratory but actually contained within the word meanings of that form used by the Holy Spirit to speak to us.

Rejoiceth in iniquity – To me this the saddest of all the negatives when used in relation to people who bear the Name of Christ.


3)      injustice, of a judge

2) unrighteousness of heart and life

3) a deed violating law and justice, act of unrighteousness

I cannot read this portion of the negative charity lacks without having my mind go to Romans and that section I call the devolution of man, which concludes:

Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.”

Romans 1:32 to 2: 2

It should never be found among those who name the Name of Christ in their lives such a blight of soul as to be found a person who rejoices in iniquity. Unfortunately we must acknowledge that such exist in entirely too great a number even as their were those who did so in Israel under the law. But I think that under grace with the sacrifice given and salvation through Christ so clear it is the more awful. My heart grieves even in contemplation of the thought. Let us all develop that sensitivity to the Holy Spirit inside us so that we grieve with Him when we consider the awful sin that we or another might actually rejoice in iniquity.



Charity’s First Great Positives


Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;”

1Corinthians 13: 4-6

            It has been necessary in order to establish what godly love is to first illuminate what it is not. People often talk about the problem of evil, but evil does have its purpose. It allows finite man to understand just a bit of what an infinite God already knows concerning what good is. You will remember that Adam and Eve did not discern good and evil before The Fall. Recognizing this does not lend credence to the false argument man’s fall was upwards to be as God, the lie of the serpent. On the contrary, evil had no claim in this world until Adam chose rebellion. Had he chose the good, obedience, it seems a likely idea that God would have summarily removed that Old Serpent to the place prepared for him at that time.

            As I meditated upon the fact great positives of godly love sandwiched and encased those failings of character contrary to godly love I began to reflect upon how often examples of such compassing and restraint occur in nature. It is as if God set examples in nature to illustrate the principle of restraint to teach us. And, it is so common that the spiritual man finds it easy to accept without great thought that Scripture showing the restraining power of the Holy Spirit in this present world. On the one side of the negatives contrary to godly love we find longsuffering and kindness. And, on the other side we find Truth of which the Lord Jesus Christ is Truth Personified. All who name the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, as their Saviour, should rejoice in the Lord always and therefore rejoice in Truth.

            Let us consider a moment these great positives and the subject of marriage within the unhappy context of a believer married to an unbeliever. This is a situation that is supposed to occur only when an individual comes to faith after marriage, but we both know this is not always the case. I invite you to read one of the chapters so many struggle with in the Scripture, the seventh chapter of 1Corinthians. In it you find these words:                     13.

But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? Or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife? But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.”                                                         1Corinthians 7: 12-17  

I would like to propose to you that the great restraints of godly love that enclose those elements contrary to it shed great light on the course of action Paul counsels Christians, not by command, but by permission.

            I would say that these spiritual fruits working in the breast of the believer are essential to any marriage just as they are powerful in their restraint upon any possibility of evil. But they are the more needful anywhere there is an open door to the possibility of temptation slipping in, which is the case when one person in the marriage still walks according to the power of the Prince of the Air. The presence of such divine restraint in the midst of the home can change what might otherwise be an intolerable situation and use it for good even as God used the circumstance of Man’s Fall to give the ultimate revelation of His Righteousness.


The Challenge of Godly Love


Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” 1Corinthians 13:7

            Many a person, I think, have tried to evidence godly love or charity in their lives without truly understanding what the evidences of charity are. For instance they might ascribe the absolutist sense of their idea of what it means to bear all things to the text and wind up in a great deal of trouble because their fundamental understanding is wrong. Let me try to explain this concept:

One part of what it means to bear all things means to take what you are called on to bear as a burden in this life to be sure. But that is not always the same case in every person’s life. For instance a person might be born a slave and not have authority over their own body, so the burden they might be called upon to bear could very well be their master’s decision on how to use them that they might well not agree with. This would not be true for a person married and living in a place where rights and freedom extend to them. Then should their married partner try to sell, abuse, or use them in an ungodly manner they would have every right to refuse to bear such a burden without stepping outside the bounds of godly love.

At the same time to bear all things sometimes means the believer will need to cover with silence, keep secret, hide and conceal some matter related to another. The Greek word “stego” is a verb conveying action in godly love, but one that should properly be considered of a positive sort.  So godly love would be contrary to much that passes between Christians labeled “sharing” that is actually gossip.

            The understanding of the challenge of godly love is not relative nor is it conditioned by situational ethics. It embraces the full teaching of Scripture concerning how we then ought to live, but a think there is a key passage that illuminates the issue to be found in Philippians chapter four where it says:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good


report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” Philippians 4: 8 & 9

This process of thought is what seasons the mind so we might see what is appropriate and godly action in love and what is not.


The Challenge of Godly Love continued


Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” 1Corinthians 13:7

            You remember Pollyanna. At least we all have a memory of her based on something we might have seen Hayley Mills do in the movies. You probably remember Pollyanna as a bit naïve person, gullible, with a tendency to believe at first everything she was told. Some people think in believing all things they must try to adopt such a Pollyanna attitude. I like to think Christians might do well to have some of the attitude Eleanor H. Porter originally wrote into her character. In the books she played the “Glad Game,” always trying to find something to be happy about in every situation. Christians can always find some reason to rejoice in the Lord because He transcends the immediate circumstance. But this does not mean we should be gullible.

            The Greek “pisteuo” has to do with the confidence we place in those things we believe to be true, in particular of a moral or religious reference. As the word is used in the New Testament it is the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of soul, particularly trusting the Lord Jesus Christ as able to aid either in obtaining or in doing something whether we are talking about saving faith or fulfilling other biblical promises.

            A person who believeth all things in the biblical manner must also have true fidelity in his own relationships. In that sense Pollyanna was portrayed as a person who was worthy of other people’s confidence. But let us avoid becoming the character. As I have often said, “Some people have character, and others are one.” We want to have it, not to be it. In this way our faith is exhibited to those about us because they see something special in us that is at the same time clear eyed, but with a vision set on things above. 16.

The Challenge of Godly Love completed


Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” 1Corinthians 13:7

            Hope and endurance are two things that go hand in hand. The other day I was reading about how, at a given point, the early church had a new persecution from the Roman Empire begin and actually rejoiced because they understood from prophecy that it would be the last Roman persecution. After suffering so much for so long, the hope of Scripture fulfillment gave them the strength to endure.

            Likewise, Americans who were held captive in Vietnam reported a positive hope often gave them the strength to endure privation and torture. For many this was their religious faith. Some found strength in the belief their country would never forget or abandon them. They believed that so strongly every time they were told their country had abandoned them or their loved ones had forgotten them by the NVA their hope and resolve was strengthened. One thing is sure, God never forgot or lost track of exactly where they were and what they were suffering.

            In the possession and exhibition of genuine godly love, hope and consequent endurance is founded in the reliability of God; His love, His promises, His Word, and His past actions. Hope and endurance of the godly sort is founded in the greatest certainties, certainties that actually extend even beyond all that exists. They are eternal certainties because they are founded in He who is eternal.

            What limitation can be placed on such hope and endurance? What is impossible to such hope and endurance? More importantly how might God respond to such hope and endurance? Sadly, the world has yet to see a single believer who was completely sold out to God. But we might consider the possibility from seeing what has happened in the lives of some notable Christians.

            This is the challenge of godly love in a person’s life. That we should be so abandoned in godly love in and through the Lord Jesus Christ that we should reflect God’s love upwardly toward the source of all love and outwardly toward all the world in the perfect imitation of Christ.                                                                     17.

The Certain and the Impermanent


Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.”                                                  1Corinthians 13:8-9

            Godly love is something that is supposed to continue even to the end. But this is not so concerning other gifts of God. This is the only interpretation possible from the word usage in the passage. The passage does not contrast that which comes from God with that which comes from other sources or is feigned. No, the Scripture states plainly that godly love continues but the gifts to the prophet had a place of ending, the gifts of facility with speech for God’s service has a point where that is no longer imparted. We might even conclude because of the absolute nature of the statement there comes a time when the Christian teacher either can not or may not function. All of this should be understood from the prophetic Scripture already, but there are many these days still unwilling to accept this is so.

            The certainty of knowledge vanishing away, both on a personal and worldwide level is also apparent. For instance, one of the mysteries of archaeology has to do with some jars found in a cave, which turned out to be 4000 year old storage batteries, not unlike in concept to large flashlight batteries. Except, we have no idea what these batteries were used for. Until they were found no one ever imagined ancient man had such knowledge. Knowledge of this and many other things have vanished away. And who among us does not find, as we grow older, that we forget?

            Even the prophets knew in part and prophesied in part. There were many mysteries, such as the mystery of the Church Age, of which they caught the barest glimmer and wished to look into. But God chose not to reveal more to them. I think this was so because it did not suit God’s purpose to tell the Evil One all of what He was doing. Likewise, it does not suit God’s plan for us to understand all about the impact of godly love on our fellow man as it expands outward from us, beginning with our nearest and dearest. So many things fail, even other types of love, such as eros or erotic love. But godly love is a bond stronger than even the failure of body and mind. It touches on the eternal.                   


Perfect Godly Love


But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”                                              1Corinthians 13:10

            One of the things that used to cause me some discomfort was the fact there will be no marrying or giving in marriage in the eternal state. (Matthew 22:30) The joy my beloved brought into my life has always made the idea that one day the relationship must end most unacceptable. But the Lord Jesus Christ is presented in Scripture as the coming Bridegroom who is coming to receive unto Himself a bride, the Church, of which we are a part.

            Likewise, the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10 It was God who confused the tongues at the Tower of Babel, who gives men new names, and who does away with the confusion of tongues in the end, so that men will sing in unison a new song. (Revelation 5:9 & 14:3) And, it is the Holy Spirit, who is the teacher of men in Christ’s stead on earth today, until that day perfect knowledge is imparted. The anticipation of understanding alone is so great we sing about it with the words, “farther along we’ll know all about it, farther along we’ll understand why!”

            In the presence of the perfection of God’s love our imperfect reflection of that love must need some refinement that will call for radical changes and the alteration of what we know here on this world. Wonderful as what is shared between two breasts that beat as one, it will pale into insignificance when fully exposed to that which is divine perfection. It is impossible for even the full concept to enter into the heart of man what the Scripture tells us about what is to be realized in that blessed day.

             Strangely, the knowledge that this transformation must take place does not lessen the onus to develop as fully as lies within us all the wonderful attributes of godly love in this present time. No, it rather enhances the desire, for those things we find that have virtue and are of good report give to us and those around us a savoring of that which we will know when the Kingdom of Heaven is fully come and God tabernacles among men. It is like the most pleasant odor bought to us on the wind, which we wish to inhale fully, but is quickly gone leaving within a longing for its pleasant return. So our hearts in godly love cries out “Come Lord Jesus!”19

The Difference Between Men and Boys


“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”                                                                  1Corinthians 13:11

            Contrary to the current saying: “The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys” the reality is far different. We have a great many males but very few men, and likewise we have very many females but a great shortage of women. Perhaps it has always been so, but my only yardstick is the adults I knew as a boy and those people of this current generation. The current generation suffers by comparison overall.

            Did you notice that in the presentation of the action of a child speaking comes before understanding, even childish understanding? And speaking came well in advance of thought. The childish answer a matter before they hear it. (Proverbs 18:13) But then in the passage in Proverbs you have the definite impression that the admonition is aimed at adults.

            Nowhere do otherwise perfectly reasonable people fall into the trap of childishness than in the state of matrimony. People will do and say things to the person they are married to that they never would consider doing to anyone else. They can even act better toward the perfect stranger they will never see again than they do toward the person they are supposed to consider even the flesh of their own flesh.

            Words spill out in invectives. How many times have you ever heard someone say to their spouse “you never” or the alternative “you always?” People create wounds with sharp words They jump to conclusions about the actions and motives of the person they marry. And, while they might forgive things done by others, they create a storehouse in their memory to resurrect and use the past, no matter how ancient, when they consider the time appropriate. In short, the most unchristian actions are reserved for those who should be first in their mates’ consideration. As a Christian Counselor my files became full of the childish behavior of those who should have put away childish things, especially in the marital relationship. So many divorces occur and are repeated because immature people never put away childish things.


Obscured Vision


For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”                                                            1Corinthians 13:12

            We think that with modern technology we can do most anything, such as produce glass without ripples in it. But as we have progressed in that ability we have found it more advisable to produce glass that bends, distorts, or reflects the sun’s rays so the inside of our homes are not heavily impacted by solar radiation and our eyes are also spared the distress of direct sunlight. The downside of protecting our poor human eyes is that it is the effect of the sun on the eyes that triggers our body to combine cholesterol with sunlight to make vitamin D. We need sunlight.

            Likewise we need our lives illuminated by godly love. We need that which flows down from on high. But our view of God is small or distorted. But, as Moses was only able to see the back parts of God’s glory, and shielded at that, we could not stand the full impact of the revelation of God as we are now. Basking in the light of God’s love can make such a Son-bather hard to gaze upon in this world, even as the people called for Moses to be veiled when he came down from the Mountain of God.

            In our present state no man my look upon God and live, but we are promised a meeting with the Most High one day, face to face. What a glorious day that will be! The transformation alone would be something. For want of any better description it has been likened to the transformation of the lowly leaf-eating caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. One poet wondered what dreams the caterpillar dreamed as it slumbered within its cocoon? Were its dreams realized with the wakening? I am persuaded that the reality to come will surpass our imagination. But the greatest thing of all is we will see Jesus!

            The debate between whether the pagan world of the past or the modern world where all that is supernatural is doubted is the greatest hindrance to the realization of Christ in us is pointless. It is the world we find ourselves in that must be confronted and overcome so God can work His work in our lives, so like vitamin D makes us glow with health, His love makes us glow with His righteousness alone.                                                                         21.

Grasping the Gold


And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”                                              1Corinthians 13:13

            In the conclusion to the love chapter we are told three things abide. Let us be clear where those things abide. It is within the breast of the believer, though not every believer possess these in the same degree. The reason being that they grow by exercise. Each person has the acorn of the qualities imparted by the Holy Spirit, because the receiving of the first two is essential for even becoming part of the household of faith. The believer then has the choice of whether he shall prune and snip away at what God has given to produce a dwarfed bonsai tree or nourish these qualities till they become a mighty oak.

            It is also interesting that each quality is a noun of the feminine gender. They should be because they are to be found in this age in those who are part of the church, the Bride of Christ. And we can be stunted in neither faith or hope and expect godly love to grow. Charity or godly love is built upon faith and hope therefore charity is the greater, especially as we have already emphasized it is also the reflection of the love of Christ.

            In writing this series of Daily Thought about the Love Chapter and relating it to marriage, an unusual event occurred. The list of subscribers had two people leave it. Though people come and go in a ministry such as this for reasons of their own, it has been rare for our little list to have very frequent departures. Reflecting on this happening lead me to conclude the subject of godly love and marriage is a painful one for many people. I think many want godly love in their marriages but encounter a lot of satanic resistance to it being fully realized in their lives. So once again we see the importance of hope and faith being essential to overcoming the wiles of the devil that work against the grace of God being fully realized in our lives.

            We are indeed running a race pursuing a reward incorruptible. We are going for the gold that does not perish and that cannot be stolen. It is not an easy race, fought on both a spiritual and physical level, but it is a worthwhile race. For in running this race we illuminate the world with the light of the Lord Jesus Christ in us, grasping the True Gold of the Christian life.  22.


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