Charity [agape love] 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….
— 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
In today’s Sparkling Gem, we come to the end of our study of First Corinthians 13:4-8, where Paul describes the behavior of the love of God. As Paul comes to the conclusion of his fabulous text about the agape love of God, he concludes powerfully in verse 8 by affirming that love “…never faileth….”
The word “faileth” is the Greek word pipto, a word that dates back to classical Greece and generally means to fall from a high position. It was also used on rare occasions to depict a warrior who fell in battle. In many places the word pipto is used to depict falling into ruin, into destruction, into some kind of misfortune, or into disappointment. In First Corinthians 13:8, Paul uses this word to affirm the eternal truth that love never disappoints or fails.
It is simply the truth that human beings often fail each other. I’m sure you have felt let down by someone else at some point along the way. And if you’re honest about your own dealings with others, you’ll have to admit that you have been guilty of letting others down as well. But agape love — God’s love — never disappoints, never fails, and never lets anyone down. It is a love that can always be depended on and is always reliable.
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People you know and respect may occasionally fall from the high position they hold in life — and that can be an emotionally difficult experience for you when you see it happen. Other times, fellow warriors may fall in battle or stumble into some kind of misfortune that disappoints you, and that is painful as well.
But you can be sure that the agape love of God will never fail you or let you down. This love is constant, unchanging, and unbendable. It is a love you will always find to be reliable and true — a love on which you can depend.
God wants you to learn to function in His high-level agape love, which is why the Holy Spirit so carefully inspired the apostle Paul to write these famous words in First Corinthians 13:4-8. This passage of Scripture is God’s mirror, designed for us to look into so we can see how well we fare at walking in the agape love of God.
I have compiled all the words, phrases, and translations we have been studying and placed them here as one complete text for you to read. Take a few minutes to read this text slowly; then ask yourself, Do I pass the love test? Or does this reveal that I need to mature more in this part of my life?
The following is an expanded interpretive translation of First Corinthians 13:4-8:
“Love patiently and passionately bears with others for as long as patience is needed; Love doesn’t demand others to be like itself; rather, it is so focused on the needs of others that it bends over backwards to become what others need it to be; Love is not ambitious, self-centered, or so consumed with itself that it never thinks of the needs or desires that others possess; Love doesn’t go around talking about itself all the time, constantly exaggerating and embellishing the facts to make it look more important in the sight of others; Love does not behave in a prideful, arrogant, haughty, superior, snooty, snobbish, or clannish manner; Love is not rude and discourteous — it is not careless or thoughtless, nor does it carry on in a fashion that would be considered insensitive to others; Love does not manipulate situations or scheme and devise methods that will twist situations to its own advantage; Love does not deliberately engage in actions or speak words that are so sharp, they cause an ugly or violent response; Love does not deliberately keep records of wrongs or past mistakes; Love does not feel overjoyed when it sees an injustice done to someone else but is elated, thrilled, ecstatic, and overjoyed with the truth; Love protects, shields, guards, covers, conceals, and safeguards people from exposure; Love strains forward with all its might to believe the very best in every situation; Love always expects and anticipates the best in others and the best for others; Love never quits, never surrenders, and never gives up; Love never disappoints, never fails, and never lets anyone down.”
So after pondering these verses, what is your answer? Are you walking in this kind of love? Have you achieved the level of love that God wants you to have in your life? Do you manifest this type of love to others who are around you? Or do you now see that you still have areas in your life where you need to grow, develop, and change in regard to walking in love?
I plead with you to spend time in prayer about this issue of God’s love in your life. How you relate to others, love others, and impact others is the most important question in your life. Since this is such a vital issue, don’t you think it’s worth your time to get into the Presence of the Lord and ask Him to reveal those areas in your love walk that need to be improved?
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I want to be the embodiment of Your love. I know that I fall very short of the agape love that You desire to see operating in my life. Therefore, I am asking You to help me move upward to the highest level of love so I can be a channel through which this love can be poured out to others whom I know and meet. Just as You have loved me, help me become a life-changing source of divine love to other people.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that God’s love dwells in me. It flows from my heart to all those around me. People who are close to me are changed and transformed by this love that operates so mightily in me. When others see me, they think of the love of God, for it is demonstrated continually in my life.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. After studying First Corinthians 13:4-8, what have you learned about yourself and the areas where you need to improve in regard to walking in love?
2. Which characteristics of agape love do you feel you are growing in and gaining territory? What is the proof on which you base your belief that you have achieved maturity in these areas of your love walk?
3. If Jesus were standing before you right now to examine your life, what would He say about how you walk in love toward others? What would other people in your life say about how well you walk in love toward them?