1 Cor. 13:4 – Longsuffering,
Kind, Not Envious or Bragging
Translation and Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the
Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS 16 Aug 2009
- [Place tomato on the lectern.] A lot of people think a
tomato is a vegetable, but really it is a fruit. I grew this tomato
in my garden.
- During the winter we sorted through our kitchen garbage
and composted it on the garden plot.
- In the Spring I went back and forth over the soil and tilled
- Then we bought some little tomato vines from Eastside Market
and carefully transplanted them into the garden.
- We watered the soil when it was dry, standing for
hours out there with the garden hose.
- We have all our kids pick 100 weeds per day out
there in the hot sun so keep the Kansas grass from running back over our
- We even had the kids collect all the grass clippings
after the lawn was mowed and distribute them as mulch around the
garden to further nurture it.
- I carefully set wire cages to support the tomato
vines as they grew taller,
- and now, after all that work, we can go out into the
garden every day and pick all these delicious vine-ripe tomatoes!
- We have looked at the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Cor.
12. These gifts are gratuitously given to all who believe in
Jesus as Savior and Lord.
- What we are looking at in chapter 13 is called a “fruit”
of the Spirit in Galatians 5. Love is the first on the list
of the fruits of the Spirit. The fruits of the spirit are character issues
that have to be cultivated and ripened over time; they don’t
fall into our lap like a gift. (John Gagliardi)
- In fact, there are a lot of parallels between the
fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians 5 and the characteristics of love
listed in 1 Cor. 13. Consider the following fruits of the Spirit and their
parallels in 1 Cor. 13: (cf. Jack Arnold)
- joy – love rejoices in the truth
- peace – love keeps no record of wrongs
- patience – love is patient
- kindness – love is kind
- goodness – love does not rejoice in wrongdoing
- gentleness – love is not rude
- faithfulness – love believes all things
- self-control – love is not easily provoked
Love seems to be the mother of all the fruits of the
spirit. What is love?
Review general word study on agaph from
two weeks ago
- The Greek noun for love used in 1 Cor 13 is agaph (agape).
- Used interchangeably with
other words for “love” in O.T. and other Greek classics.
- Jesus and the apostles were
unique in using the word to refer to the love of God.
- “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten
- It is love which gives of itself for the benefit of
- Eph 5 “Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the
church and gave Himself up...”
- It is part and parcel of obeying God.
- John 14:15 (cf. v.21) “If you love me, you will keep my
- The two greatest commandments being “Love the Lord your
God… and love your neighbor” (Mark 12:33/Mt. 23)
- That’s the overview on agape, but God’s word goes
into the nitty-gritty of what it is like to love, and that’s what I
want to step into, one verse at a time for the next few sermons.
- This may feel as tedious at points as picking
weeds, but I believe that the fruit of love is worth doing some tedious
meditation on in order to cultivate its sweet fruit in our lives.
- We’re just looking at one verse today, and that is 1 Cor.
13:4. In this verse, 5 statements are made about what it means to
13:4 Love suffers
long; it is kind, love does not envy; love does not brag; it is not puffed up.
these first five principles of love one at a time:
1) Love suffers long – makrwthumei
- Grammar observations:
- This is an active verb
made up of two Greek roots, the word for “long” and the
word for “passion.” Some English translations render this “is patient”
but I prefer the more active translation given in the KJ translations
here: “suffers long.”
- The grammar structure also
indicates that this is a repeated and habitual course of
action, not a temporary action or circumstance.
- Suffering long? Now that’s
not what they sing about on the radio with all those love songs, is it?
- Long-suffering involves
forgiving others as God forgave you
- How curious that the very first
characteristic of love has to do with putting up with the
imperfections of others, those imperfections that make our lives inconvenient.
- The first time this verb occurs
in the NT is when Jesus told the parable of the servant who was so
far in debt that he could never pay his way out, so when his master
demanded payment, "the slave fell down and prostrated himself before
him, saying, 'Have patience with me…’” (Mat 18:26). The
master decided to pardon the debt and write off as a loss all that money
the slave had borrowed from him. (He was “long-suffering” with that
slave.) Then the slave ran across another slave who owed him a little sum
of money yet when the second slave begged for patience just as the first
slave had done, the first slave was not willing to forgive the debt as
his master had done to him. When the master caught wind of this, he had
the slave tortured and re-instated the slave’s debt. Jesus ended the parable
by stating that for every one of us who have been forgiven by God of our
sins, God will seek the same punishment for us – torture in hell and
reinstatement of our debt to Him – if we are unwilling to be
longsuffering and forgiving toward other people.
- 2 Peter 3:15 …the patience
of our Lord is salvation…
- From the beginning of creation, we humans have disobeyed and
dishonored God. God set the standard by putting up with our offenses
against Him and putting His own Son to death to pay for the offenses, and
now we, His children, are called to love as He loved, being patient and
longsuffering when other people offend and dishonor us, seeking their
salvation rather than retaliation. Putting up with them rather than
exploding in anger at them.
- How many times should I
forgive him? Seven times? No, Seventy times seven, and don’t start
- Longsuffering includes
overlooking and forgiving offenses, following God’s lead.
- Longsuffering also includes
putting up with the inconveniences of those who are weaker or more
- 1 Thess. 5:14 “We urge you,
brothers, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak,
be patient with everyone.”
- 2 Tim. 2:24-26 “And the
Lord's servant must not strive, but be gentle towards all, apt to teach,
forbearing, in meekness correcting them that set themselves in
opposition; if perhaps God may give them repentance unto the knowledge of
the truth, and they may recover themselves out of the snare of the
- Cindy Sigler Dagnan wrote the
following paraphrase of 1 Cor 13 about being longsuffering concerning
If I spend my days building skyscrapers with blocks,
assembling cool stuff out of LEGOs and creating relationships with other moms
at Starbucks, but have not love, I am only the siren of the kids' ride-on fire
truck, annoyingly stuck on hold.
If I have the gift of
knowing which child attempted to flush the Hot Wheels down the toilet and which
one pushed her sister, and if I have faith that somehow I'll survive life's
emergencies, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I save all my box tops for school and give
outgrown clothing to the local shelter, and if I surrender my body to stretch
marks and under-eye circles... but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient when someone isn't ready to use
the big girl potty. It is kind when my husband has a hard day. It doesn't envy
my neighbor who drives the new sport utility vehicle I can't afford.
It is not rude, snapping at my spouse or children
when things don't go my way. It is not easily angered at perceived or real
It always protects the smallest, sweetest family
confidences; always trusts God to provide my children's needs; always hopes in
the freshness of tomorrow and the bright future of family; always perseveres
amid hardship and doubt.
Where there are sleepless nights, they shall end.
Where there are diapers, Little League and dioramas built from shoe-boxes, they
will cease. Where there is knowledge of baby-care trends, discipline strategies
and boy-girl problems, it will pass away.
Now these three remain: faith, lived out in my
daily circumstances and instilled in my children; hope, of one day rejoicing
with my family in heaven; and love, which covers over a multitude of
less-than-perfect moments. But the greatest of these is love.
- Long-suffering also
involves waiting for God’s justice and the fulfillment of His promises:
- Heb. 6:12 “be not sluggish,
but imitators of them who through faith and patience inherit the
promises. 13 God promised to Abraham… 14 saying, ‘I will surely bless
you, and I will surely multiply you.’ 15 And after patiently waiting,
he obtained the promise.”
- James 5:7 “Therefore be
patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for
the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it
gets the early and late rains. 8 You too be patient; strengthen
your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.”
- Longsuffering should be on
- So that we walk patiently:
Eph 4:1-3 “…walk worthily of the calling in which you were called, with
all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one
another in love; giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the
bond of peace.”
- So that we remember the
example of patience in others: James 5:10 As an example, brethren,
of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name
of the Lord.
- So that we pray for
patience, as Paul did in Col 1:11.
- So that we teach others
patiently: 2Ti 4:2b “…reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience
2) [Love] Practices kindness/is kind, gentle in behavior (ATR), merciful
(Clark), useful, gracious, kind (Thay.)
- The practice of kindness is
the flip side of putting up with what is inconvenient in others; it is the
active doing of kind things to those people you are having to put up with!
- Once again, this is a present
active verb, describing constant action done out of love.
- In his book, Leading with
Love, Alexander Strauch comments that, “Kindness is a readiness to do
good, to help, to relieve burdens, to be useful, to serve, to be tender,
and to be sympathetic to others… ‘Kindness is love in work clothes.’”
- This is the only place in
scripture this word (chraysteuetai) is found, but related words (chraomai
and chrestos) are used in the following verses:
- Luke 6:35 "But love
your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and
your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He
Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.
- Rom. 2:4 “Or do you think
lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not
knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”
- Eph. 4:32 “Be kind to
one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ
also has forgiven you.”
- 1 Pet. 2:2 “as newborn babies,
long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that by it you may
grow in salvation; 3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”
- Once again, any kindness we
express is to mirror the kindness God has shown to us in leading us to
repentance, forgiving us, and blessing us.
- “A young man left his
employer, a lumber merchant, and began business in competition with him.
For a while he prospered greatly and got many orders that would have gone
to the firm he had left. But just when his business seemed to be most
flourishing, and he had more orders than he could supply, a huge fire in
his yard destroyed all his lumber. The day after the fire he saw his old
employer coming toward his office. He said later, "I could have
hated him, for I thought he was coming to gloat over my misfortune. But
he came to me as a friend in need and said, 'I know you have agreed to
supply lumber to your customers by certain dates, and this unfortunate
fire makes it impossible for you to do it. My lumber yard is at your
disposal. You can have what you need and pay me at your own convenience.
Your business may go on as usual.' " The young man was overwhelmed
by this embodiment of the Golden Rule; the rivalry and hatred that he had
felt gave place to love.” (2,000 + Bible Illustrations)
- Alfred Tennyson once wrote of
the Anglican archbishop Thomas Cranmer, “To do him any wrong was to beget
a kindness from him.” Could that be said of you?
- Prov. 3:3 “Let not kindness
(chesed/eleew) and truth forsake you: Bind them about your neck; Write
them upon the tablet of your heart:”
- So love positively
shows kindness while suffering long. There are 3
things following in this verse that love does NOT do:
3) Love Does not envy/is not jealous – ou zayloi (G2206)
- Root Meaning: is “to boil.”
- This can be positive, such as
“brimming with enthusiasm”
- This positive zeal was
mentioned in 12:31 “be zealous about the greater gifts” (cf. 1Cor.
14:1&39, 2 Cor. 11:2)
- or negative “boiling with
anger” generally due to jealousy or coveteousness.
- James 4:2 “You lust and do
not have; so you commit murder.
You are envious and cannot obtain; so
you fight and quarrel.” (cf. James 3:14-16)
- Wishing you owned a toy that
someone else has will keep you from loving that person.
- This is a truth that many
politicians have played on. Keep the poor envious of the wealth of the
rich and the minorities envious of the status of the majority and the
people will not unite to support righteousness.
- It is equally destructive of
marriages. Wishing you had a different husband or wife is not the path of
self-sacrifice that benefits others in your family.
- Jealousy was already mentioned
as an issue in Corinth in 1 Cor. 3:3
- For y’all are still being
fleshly, for where there is jealousy and fighting and divisions
among you, aren’t you being fleshly and walking according to humanism? 4.
For whenever someone says, “As for me, I am of Paul,” and another “I am
of Apollos,” you are not being men.
- People were jockeying for
positions of status within the church and putting other people down. This
kind of stuff is evil.
- (cf. Prov. 6:34, Rom 13:13)
- In the OT "The patriarchs
became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt.” (Acts 7:9)
- Why? Because he got more
attention and gifts from his father and visions from God.
- Nathaniel Vincent, in A
Discourse Concerning Love, wrote this about envy: “How much of hell
is there in the temper of an envious man! The happiness of another is his
misery; the good of another is his affliction. He looks upon the virtue
of another with an evil eye, and is as sorry at the praise of another as
if that praise were taken away from himself. Envy makes him a hater of
his neighbor, and his own tormentor.”
- In Acts 17:5 when Paul and
Silas were on their missionary journey through Greece, “the Jews, becoming
jealous and taking along some wicked men from the market place,
formed a mob and set the city in an uproar; and attacking the house of
Jason” (their host). Why? Because many Jews and God-fearing Greeks were
leaving the synagogue to follow Paul! How would you respond if a bunch
of your friends were convinced to follow a rival of yours and quit
hanging out with you?
- If you love others, however,
their advancement does not threaten you because you want to see them
- The response of love is the
response of John the Baptizer in John 3:30. John’s disciples were
noticing that everyone who had once been following John and listening to
him teach were now leaving John and following Jesus. John’s disciples
were concerned and asked him what they should do about losing so many
followers. John replied, “…He must increase; I must decrease…”
- Saul and Jonathan
provide another pair of contrasts: King Saul heard the women singing that
David had killed more Philistines than Saul had, and he got green with
envy, spending the rest of his life trying to kill David because he saw
David as a threat to his power as a king. Saul’s son, Jonathan,
however, the scriptures tell us, “loved” David, and even though Jonathan
was the price, the heir to the throne, he was a true friend and help to
David, even though he knew that promoting David’s cause would put David
on the throne instead of him.
- Will you choose to love
like John and Jonathan instead of boiling with jealousy?
4) Love Does not parade itself/does not boast/brag/not ostentatious [perpereuetai
- Hapex. Leg.]
- Examples of parading (KJV)
like a peacock:
- Boys: When guys show
off, it is often a show of power. They may have strange ideas of
what is powerful, such as the ability to make loud noises - the
loudest burp, the loudest boom-box, or the least-effective muffler on a
car. They also like to show muscular strength, peeling off their
shirts to show off muscles or running around at great speeds, perhaps
while catching or throwing a ball of some kind. This is supposed to be
very impressive, but that is not what impresses the girls.
- Girls, on the other hand, try to make a visual impression. They
sometimes do this by putting large amounts of colored mud on their
face, a curious practice that still baffles most men as to why anyone
would want to do such a thing. Another tactic is to wear clothing
that is of no practical value in comfort, covering, or ability to walk
around. And if all else fails, sit with other girls and giggle.
This is sure to get the guys to roll their eyes in exasperation.
- Isa 10:15 “Shall the axe
boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against
him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as
if a staff should lift him who is not wood!” No, it is the Lord
who gives you strength. It is the Lord who gives you beauty.
If you want to boast, boast in the Lord!
- Are you quick to talk about
yourself and quick to inform people of all that you know about a subject?
How much time do you spend listening and seeking to understand other
people? Love sacrifices self for the good of others. How much you spend
talking about yourself vs. how much you spend listening to others is a
good gauge of your love.
- James 4:16 “You boast in your presumption,
and all such boasting is evil.” (cf. Psa 49:6, Rom 1:30)
- “The sanctimonius,
trumpet-blowing Pharisees shamelessly craved the attention of people. They
were religious show-offs. Jesus pointed out how they loved the front seats
in the synagogue, respectful greetings on the street, [they lengthened the
tassels on their robes and expected] praise for their public acts of
piety… Braggarts build themselves up, jealous people
tear others down, but loving people build others up.”
5) [Love] Is not puffed up/arrogant/proud
- This is related to parading/boasting/bragging, but I’d like
to take some more time to meditate on it in the future, so just hold that
thought ‘till next time and let me go ahead and close.
suffers long; it is kind, love does not envy; love does not brag; it is not
- How can you get that kind of
- It cannot be humanly
manufactured. It is a fruit that can only come from God the H.S.
You must first surrender your life to Jesus in order to have the ability
- Even then it does not grow
wild. It will take a lot of attention and work to cultivate,
but that is our job as Christians.
- Jesus is the source of love and the example
we must keep our eyes on.
- Bob Bennett, wrote the following lyrics about how Jesus
humbled Himself out of love for us and how we are called into the battle
You had no place to lay Your head,
Savior of the world.
A stranger’s house in borrowed
bed, savior of the world.
As I lie here in this luxury that
I have always known,
Oh Savior of the world, come and
heal this heart of stone!
Come and heal this heart of stone!
…Make my hands like Your hands.
If they must be wounded,
let all the pain that I may feel
make me merciful and kind.
Savior of the world, change my
heart, change my mind.
Do you think that you can change