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An Overview of Love According to 1 Corinthians 13

In this passage, the Apostle Paul gives a deeply profound yet very practical illustration of love. While there are several uses of the word “love,” here Paul is referring to agape ( ah-gah-pay) love, which is the Greek word for a love that is selfless, intentional, and pure. It’s a love that sacrifices and seeks the best for others. Agape love goes far beyond just feelings that are often conditional and ever-changing. It is a love that heals, unites, and bonds people together for the sake of Christ. Here, Paul is teaching the Corinthians how to use their individual God-Given gifts to love others for the sake of the Gospel.

Love is Patient

In all honesty, patience is probably one of my biggest struggles. There is a time frame and/or pace at which my mind thinks things should be done, and when that doesn’t happen, I tend to unravel a bit. But this is not Agape love. This is not the love that bears long and suffers long. This is not a love that is mild and slowly angered. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit and grows through our connection to Christ. When we patiently love, we endure the difficulties and challenges with perseverance because this love points others to Jesus.

Love is Kind

Agape love is kind even to those that are hared to be kind to. Kindness is an attitude that we portray not to just one but to everyone that we encounter. This kindness is more about the condition of our own hearts and less about the nature of others. Kindness is a gracious, deliberate, and conscious act of love towards others. Kindness stops our excuses or validations based on the deserving or undeserving nature of others and instead shows little discretion because this is a love that points others to Jesus.

Love Does Not Envy

Agape love rejoices and is happy for others. This type of love does not envy or walk in jealousy over the gifts others have been given by God that were not given to us. This type of love recognizes that we are all given different gifts that we are to use to share Christ with others. We are to steward these gifts together as one body for God’s Kingdom. Therefore, instead of desiring the gifts given to others by God, we should celebrate them and recognize that these gifts have been given by Christ and are essential for our unity as a body of believers so that we can point others to Jesus.

Love Is Not Boastful or Arrogant

Agape love is humble, and I would argue that a humble spirit is a major key to our Christian walk. Humility allows us to take the focus off of ourselves and recognize that all honor and glory belong to God. The “all about me attitude” has no place in agape love because it shifts the focus away from God and onto ourselves. True love—Agape love is humble and acknowledges our reliance and dependence on Jesus and points others to Him.

Love Is Not Rude

Agape love is courteous and respectful, shining the light of Christ in our daily interactions with others. I would guess that we have all encountered rudeness. Personally, I attempt to put space between those people as quickly as possible. Rudeness does not unite or unify; instead, it diminishes the witness of Christ's love and does not point others to Him.

Love Is Not Self-Seeking

Agape love is selfless. It puts others before ourselves for the sake of Christ. It thinks and cares for the needs of others even when those needs disrupt our plans. This type of love looks to serve others by simply saying, “What can I do for you today?” instead of" “What can I do for myself?” This love keeps our hearts focused on the good of the whole so that we can reflect the love of Jesus and point others to Him.

Love Is Not Irritable

Agape love is not easily provoked or made angry. I can view this from two perspectives. Let me try to explain. As humans I would say that we all have moments of irritability. How we display our irritability to others and how we respond to those who are irritated is a good indication of what our heart is focused on. There is a calmness that results from focusing on Christ rather than ourselves. When our heart is lasered in our Jesus, we are less likely to be irritated by the actions of others, but instead, we respond in ways (despite life’s circumstances) that point others to Christ.

Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs

Agape love forgives —period. It doesn’t hold grudges towards others. It doesn’t pout, and it doesn’t point fingers. This love instead acknowledges that we all are imperfect, we all fall short, and we all make mistakes. But despite all of that, we set our sights on becoming a more useful vessel for Christ by forgiving the mistakes of others and moving towards reconciliation instead of disunity. Agape love seeks healing and encourages others towards the right path by pointing them towards Jesus.

Love Rejoices in the Truth

Agape love is truthful. Not only is it truthful, but it rejoices in the Truth. We don’t determine, change, or refine what is truth —that was done by God long ago. We don’t decide right or wrong —the Bible does that for us. The truth can be difficult to hear and sometimes even harder to speak. But it is necessary because it discerns and clarifies the big picture and points others to Jesus.


How we love others is a TRUE INDICATION of our personal walk with the Lord. Truthfully, my impatience is selfish. It focuses on me and not Jesus. The love that changes the lives of those around us is not about us at all. It’s not about our comforts or our own desires. Instead, it’s about surrender, even when it makes little sense. It’s about loving unlovable people. It’s about giving of ourselves and our time when we have little left to give. It’s about trust, loyalty, and intentionality. It’s about how we love others and point them to Jesus.

I believe many questions and disputes can be solved and reconciled by examining the condition of our own hearts. The next time you find yourself in a state of mind or heart strikingly different from this teaching of Paul —step away and consider the focus of your heart.

It’s not about rules; it’s not about “must do’s” and “must not do’s.” We debate rules, we argue, we attempt to discern, and we listen to the many thoughts of others. But Jesus —well, He always goes to the Heart. Our ability and willingness to love displays what our heart is filled with —what we truly value and place our worth in. Our heart is behind everything we say, think, act, and do. The overflow of that is a picture of our soul and what we love and place our hope in.

Our heart is behind all that we do. It can either bring forth clarity or cause confusion. It can answer questions and shed light, or it can breed chaos. Our heart can focus on the problem or deliver solutions. Don’t believe me? Think about the many questions that circle our brains…

  • I’m not sure how to navigate my day.

    • The priorities of your day are navigated by the desires of your heart?

  • I don’t know my plans.

    • It depends on what you are planning for. The earthly or the eternal?

  • I’m hurt —and I don’t know how to respond.

    • It depends on whether you are trying to focus on yourself, alleviating only your pain, or selflessly and intentionally seeking unity to grow God’s Kingdom.

  • I’m confused —I don’t know the right path.

    • There is only one right path, and that path is the one that leads to Christ.

  • And the one I hear most often…. I WISH I KNEW MY PURPOSE!

I truly am so thankful for the many people who have loved me. Because of the power of God moving within them, they pointed me to Jesus over and over again with intentional kindness and purposeful acts of love.

Share this post with someone who has truly impacted your life because of the goodness of God in them and how they have loved and pointed you to HIM!


Are you using “Finding Joy in May” as your monthly Bible Reading Plan? We have just completed 1 Corinthians and are beginning 2 Corinthians. If not, and you are interested, check it out here. This book is available to download and print or purchase as a paperback.

For those of you reading below, I have summarized some of the context and background of 2 Corinthians.

Just like 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians was written by the Apostle Paul around AD 55-56. In this letter, Paul continues to humbly bring clarity to the Gospel message. Paul encourages the Corinthians to love and serve their fellow Christians in Judea by highlighting the importance of unity, service, and support within the body of Christ. Through his own life and ministry, Paul reveals how his suffering is intertwined with the power of the Holy Spirit. This powerful testimony serves as a model for the Corinthians by showing how they are to live faithfully, even in trials, by relying on God's strength and grace.

*** For those who may not know, Joyfully has designed a premium online community that we wanted to invite you to join. Each week, I share notes from my personal quiet time, answer questions, and encourage thoughtful discussion threads to foster encouragement and accountability. Additionally, when you subscribe, you'll enjoy unlimited access to Joyfully HIS resources that support your walk with God. Click here for your 7-day free trial.

Joyfully HIS,

Jennifer N. Pearson

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