© 2003 "Yes Lord" Ministries
Our study continues. And, yes, since in this lesson we will be studying Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians, it would have been appropriate for this to have been been Lesson 13 instead of 12. But, alas, somehow we got "out of sync"! But, regardless of its number, this is a VERY important Chapter in a VERY important course. So, let's continue on.
The 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians is one of the best loved, most often quoted, and well known (but perhaps the least "practiced") chapters of the entire Bible. Why is this such an important Chapter? Don't answer that now -- that was just a rhetorical question. But, hopefully, you will understand at the end of this lesson the answer to this question and more.
So, with that said.... let's begin!
And, as usual, let's begin by actually READING this chapter (included here for you or you can use your own Bible or version of your choice.) As you read, put a RED HEART around every occurrence of the word "LOVE" or words (such as "it", etc.) used in place of that word. Ok, that is your "assignment". Now here is the Chapter.
.......but have not love,
.......I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
2. If I have the gift of prophecy and
can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,
3. If I give all I possess to the poor
and surrender my body to the flames,
4. Love is patient, love is kind.
6. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8. Love never fails.
we know in part and we prophesy in part,
11. When I was a child, I talked like
a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
12. Now we see but a poor reflection
as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
13. And now these three remain: faith,
hope and love.
Wow ! No wonder this is such a beloved chapter which has been cherished and often memorized since the time these words were first penned by Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
And, since you are well aware of the many problems that Paul was addressing to the members of the young Church in Corinth, you can understand why these words were needed. But, they are not only applicable to the Corinthian Church; they are obviously applicable to EVERY believer from then till now and beyond.
Let's look at this chapter in more detail and see what it was teaching them then AND us today!
Reread those verses, and this time, as you read, PUT
A BOX or a CIRCLE around every occurrence of the word, "BUT."
Use any color of your choice. I used Black.
Wonderful ! I see that you have finished the assignment. Now let's do some thinking.
You will recall, from our last lesson (Lesson 11 concerning Spiritual Gifts) that Paul instructed them in the fact that, as Christians (Believers), they each HAVE one or more Spiritual Gifts. We also learned in our study (refer back to that lesson if you don't remember all of this "off the top of your head"), that these gifts were in basically TWO categories. What were those 2 Categories?
The 2 Main Categories of Spiritual Gifts are
1.Yes, you are correct. Now, look at verses 1-3 of Chapter 13 and see if you can see those two categories ("speaking gifts" and "serving gifts"). Notice carefully and you will recognize several, but not all, specific spiritual gifts in each category. On the chart below, list the specific gifts which are named, note the verse in which you found the gift, and put the information under the appropriate category. After you have looked at verses 1-3, read the rest of the chapter and see if you can find any more Gifts listed, and include them also on the list below, giving the reference verse for each. (I will do the first one in each category for you as an example.)
..... tongues (13:1)..((.................................................................Giving (13:3)
..... (note: "Speak" as used here, likely also includes teaching, etc. so
............you may want to list some of those, too, since they may be implied.)
Finished again? Great! And, isn't it interesting that Spiritual gifts are mentioned so specifically in this Chapter on LOVE? Hmmmm. I wonder why? Well, let's think about that, because there is nothing placed in the Bible without a specific reason or purpose.
First of all, as we "think", ask yourself, are these ALL of the gifts,
or are the ones mentioned here only a few of the many which are available?
(remember what you studied in the previous lesson)
Well, as usual, you are correct. These are not all of the Spiritual Gifts available; they are only a few of the many which are available, but they are a good representation and are enough to "prove the points" that Paul wants to make in this chapter on LOVE.
And, before we continue, since I know you are "wondering", the gifts
that I listed on the chart were:
Your list probably contained the same or most of the same gifts, perhaps even more -- or less, but now you will know if you were in the ballpark.
So, with that said, let's continue.
Since these are NOT ALL of the Spiritual Gifts, why did Paul mention
only these and not give the whole list?
Yes, Paul was making a point ! And what was the point that
Paul was making?
Correct, the point that Paul is making is that LOVE is important
when a person is exercising their gift(s), indeed it is essential!
And to clarify this, in verses 1 through 3, Paul gave 3 illustrations
of what happens if a gift is NOT exercised in / with LOVE. Now, with
that in mind, on the chart below, list the gift(s) that Paul specifically
named, then give the result that happens if the gift is NOT exercised in
love. Finally, and this is where you have to do some thinking, in
the third column, explain what the "bad result" means and why it happens.
Arg! This is soooooo very sad! A person can have wonderful spiritual gifts given to him / her by the Lord, but, if that person does not exercise ( practice) them in Love, he or she is just wasting their time. Like a clanging cymbal or a loud resounding noisy gong, the speaking gifts will just be so much noise without any meaning or conviction being imparted to the hearer. And even though you might be filled with wisdom and understanding and knowledge and you are the smarted and most brilliant Bible scholar around, if you are just using that knowledge to show off or lord it over others (i.e. not showing love but pride), then you are wasting your time. You are nothing and you are accomplishing nothing! Soooooo sad and such a waste of time and effort because it accomplishes nothing and helps noone! And concerning those with serving gifts, such as giving, and even if you go so far as to give your very life !!... but have not love !!! again you are just making a needless sacrifice and have accomplished nothing ! How horrible!
Thinking about this and the "hypothetical persons" in verses 1-3, should give us great pause and cause us to question our own motives! In these verses, Paul is telling the believers/Christians in the Church at Corinth (and us) that they (and we) need to evaluate how we are exercising our own spiritual gifts and determine if we are exercising them in love or just to show off and "be important." But, before we do that, we also need to be very clear in our minds concerning what LOVE for others really is.
To do that, let's go back and look again at verses 4-8a and refresh our memories about true genuine Christian Agape Love. And, that, of course, means it is time for another assignment.
So, your assignment now is: Read verses
4-8a, and, as you read, on the chart below, list the specific explanations
of LOVE in the left hand column --- then. in the right hand
column, give a specific illustration or example of how this should
be lived out in our relationships with others, such as with a fellow believer,
or family member, or friend, a neighbor, a total stranger, or ... well
you get the idea. (Note: This is such an important assignment, you
might want to do it on a separate piece of paper so you can write more...
and, please feel free to use more than one person for each characteristic.
In fact, a minimum of 2 people per characteristic would be preferred
because we relate to different people in different ways and this will be
a good way to plan ahead our reactions to "problem folks" in anticipation
of future contacts with them in "troubling situations" where LOVE should
be expressed instead of anger, hostility, etc.)
"Self, what is my spiritual gift and how am I exercising it? Am I exercising it in Love? Or am I using it to call attention to myself instead of God? Do I really care about others and their souls and their needs? Or am I just using my gift to get praise or attention from others or to earn "brownie points" with God by doing "good deeds"?"
With that series of questions (and others which
have doubtless entered your mind as you read this) ringing in your heart
and mind, stop now and prayerfully evaluate your Spiritual gift(s) and
how you are using it/them. Ask God to show you places or situations
where you have become a "resounding gong or a clanging cymbal" or places
where you have accomplished "nothing" because you did not exercise your
gift properly. Take as much time as you need to do this. When you
have finished, write a short prayer or summary, in the space below, concerning
your commitment to God in this matter.
Ok, I see that you have finished. Now, let's summarize what you observed.
In verses 1-7, the "when" that our spiritual gifts are being exercised is _____________________________ .
In verses 8-13, the "when" that is being referred to occurs in /at __________________________________ . (Note: If you don't know the answer to this yet, leave it blank. You can come back and fill it in after we do the next assignment.)
In verses 8-13 we notice that something very interesting and important is said about Spiritual gifts. These verses also have some wonderful and encouraging news for us. We will look at both of these thoughts next. But, before we continue, just so you will know if you have your first answer correct (i.e.. re. the WHEN /timing of verses 1-7) -- you are correct if you said that the exercise of our spiritual gifts is here and now, i.e.. while we are still alive and living our earthly lives. Glad to know you got that correct. -- Knew you would!!! So, let's continue.
In verses 8-13, another "WHEN / time period" seems to come into view. Let's look at those verses (included below with some questions inserted) and notice the contrast. After we finish this, you can fill in the answer to the question re. verses 8-13 with more confidence.
8. Love never fails.
...... Never???? Then,
what time periods (WHENs) does this include? ____________ and
...When will they cease? ________________ Why? ___________________ Where will we be?= in,,,,,,where there are tongues, they will be stilled;
..When will they be stilled? _______________ Why? ___________________ Where will we be? in......where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
When will it pass away? ________________ Why? ___________________ Where will we be? in9. .,For we know in part and we prophesy in part, .......................To When is this referring ?
10. but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
When does perfection come? __________________ Why does the imperfect disappear?11. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When did/do I talk and reason like a child? ____________________________________.......When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
what is Paul saying here re. "WHEN" _________ explain your answer12. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; .............When is this? _____________________
........then we shall see face to face.
When is this? _____________ Who will we see ? ________________ Where are we? _____________........Now I know in part; ...................... When is this? _____________________
....then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. When is this? ___________ Where will I be?
Why will I know fully? _______________ What does it mean to be fully known?13. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. ,,,,,..........,, When is this? ________________
........But the greatest of these is love. ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,What does this mean? _____________________________
Hmmmm. Verrrrrry interesting. In the first 7 verses of Chapter 13, the emphasis is on the here and now and in using our spiritual gifts and love. But, in verses 8-13, we learn that, in the future, after we die and go to heaven, that spiritual gifts are no longer needed, indeed, they will pass away. Why do they pass away? Because, in heaven, we are no longer like children who don't know much and who need lots of instruction and help; in heaven we become like adults with greater understanding. In heaven we will know things fully, whereas when we where children we only have limited understanding. Also, in heaven, we are fully known and our motives and actions are pure because they are exhibiting pure agape/love. In heaven we no longer need spiritual gifts because people now "know" so don't have to be taught, prophecies have been fulfilled so this gift is no longer needed, in heaven everyone speaks the same language/tongue so the gift of speaking of tongues is no longer necessary, etc.
But, three things DO remain in heaven! They are ____________ ,______________, and ________________ . Yes, faith, hope, and love remain (i.e. still are valid and needed) because these truly are the most important and are the basis and foundation of God's kingdom, His kingdom of love and light. Faith and Hope (in Christ for our salvation and redemption), of course, remain eternally. And God's all encompassing and unconditional (agape) love permeates and indwells every inhabitant.and action in and of His heavenly Kingdom!
WOW! What profound insights and truths in this Chapter. And this is only touching the surface of what this chapter is teaching. But, as usual, we don't have time to go into the many other things which would be revealed by studying the definitions of various words (such as faith, hope, love, patient, kind, rude, etc.) or by looking at other concepts which are being taught in these verses. I wish we had more time. But, alas, we don't. However, in the future, as you mediate on these verses, you will gain further insights as the Holy Spirit continues to teach you.
And, speaking of "alas we don't have time." it is time to begin to bring this lesson to an end. BUT, before we do, there are a few more important things that we need to mention and to do.
And we do have time for a couple of simple questions:
Wow! Think of that; There are 13 verses in Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians! That is such a convenient way for us to remember WHERE this famous Love Chapter is located (as if you would have had any difficulty) and it will also remind us of how SHORT this powerful chapter is!
And, speaking of SHORT, which it really is when compared with so many of the loooooong chapters in this book and in the Bible, let's end our lesson with one last assignment.
And that last assignment is.... are you sitting down? ....yes, you guessed it, you probably saw this coming.... but, as our final assignment, since this is such a short but verrrrrry IMPORTANT chapter, let's (gasp) MEMORIZE it!
"MEMORIZE IT ? Are you out of your mind?" I can just hear you saying that now. And you are doubtless also murmuring such things as "You just don't understand, I am a zillion (i.e.. over 25) years old and there is no way I can memorize anything now. ... Memorizing is only for little folks. ...You can't teach an old dog new tricks.... And yada yada yada"
Well, folks, get over it !!!. Yes, you CAN memorize!!!... whether you are 5 or 105. You are NOT too old to memorize, especially when it is God's Word.
So, let me give you some "pointers" on how to do this.
First of all, you are going to be surprised to know that you already have this chapter partly memorized because you have been doing some of the first steps which aid you in memorizing.
Specifically, you have already read this chapter several times and you have been paying attention to what you were reading by marking important (key) words, answering questions, making lists, and doing lots of thinking about what you were reading. And, each time you did those things, you were unconsciously memorizing it.
And, doubtless you also noticed that I divided the verses into little sections or groups with related phrases and thoughts on each line or in little sections which are easy to "chew on". That was not an accident. That was done on purpose!
Allllllll of these things are aids to memorization! So, you are already well down the road to having memorized this chapter. Trust me. You are!
Now, the next thing you should do, in this "memorizing process" is to either photocopy, cut out, or rewrite Chapter 13 and put it on note cards so you can take it with you and refer to it off and on during the days ahead. (Also, if you rewrite this, it would be good if you again mark the key words, LOVE and BUT).
Then, start reading the first phrase or grouping of thoughts (in this case it would be verse 1).... read it out loud it 2 or 3 times... and then close your eyes and see if you can say it without looking.
When you can say verse 1 without looking, then read aloud verse 2 several times ..... then say it without looking.....
Then say verses one and two without looking.....
Then add verse three....
Then, when you "kinda know" the first 3 verses, since they are the "end" of a thought in this chapter, stop and keep saying those 3 verses over and over, many times, without looking... until you really know them.
Then, it is time to begin learning verses 4 through 7, which is the next "section" and another "complete thought", since it is describing and defining what LOVE IS ! So, as you did before.... read aloud verse 4 several times, then close your eyes and say it (--or, if you are walking down a street or driving a car or doing something where you NEED to see, keep your eyes open --duh-- and just say it without looking at the words.) When you know that verse, add verse 5 -- read it out loud several times; then close your eyes and say it. Then say verses 4 and 5 with your eyes closed And, continue with verses 6 and 7 in the same way until you can say verses 4 through 7 without looking.
Then go back and refresh your memory for verses 1 through 3. Read aloud those verses once or twice and then start saying the whole chapter from memory, from verse 1 through 7. Do that 2 or 3 times.
Then look at the next "thought section". What would it be as you look at this chapter? Ans. = Verses ___________ . Yes, your next thought grouping should be verses 8,9, and 10. So, learn them in the same way as you did for the other groupings. Then, add this section to what you already know and practice saying verses 1 through 10 until you are saying these 10 verses without having to look with pretty good confidence.
And, now after verses 1-10 are pretty much in your "memory bank", look at the chapter and select the next section to learn; what would that logically be? = verses ___________ . Yes, you are correct. The next verses you should memorize are verses 11 and 12. So learn them as you have done the others and then say verses 1-10
And then it is time to look again at the next thing to learn... and
guess what! There is only 1 verse left and you probably already KNOW
this one. Write it here: " and now ___________________________________________________________"
So, in summary, the WAY to MEMORIZE this or any chapter or section in the Bible is:
1. Read the passage looking for and marking a few key words.
How do I meditate? you ask. And where and when do I meditate? Good questions?...... and, in summary form,
The WAY to MEDITATE is:
1. First you need to have memorized the passage, chapter, verse, or
section that you want to mediate upon. With Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians,
you have done that, so you are ready to begin.
You get the idea. Don't linger on these things for an inordinately long time, but do think about them (i.e., you are "meditating" on what is being said in that word or verse or phrase).
3. Then go to the next word or phrase, which, in this case, since you are just learning to do this, could be the phrase "But have not love" .... stop with that phrase and spend some time reallllllly thinking about what it means in the context of what you just said. "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels., but have not love " And you think about this. Yes, you might know a bunch of foreign languages, you might even know the language the angels speak (unlikely, but possible) and you might even be speaking TRUTH and the GOSPEL or a WARNING or whatever BUT if I am not saying this in love !!!!..... hmmmm.... what IS love? (and then your mind should jump forward to the definition of love that you have also memorized, in verses 4-7, and you would list in your mind the characteristics of love (is patient, is kind, etc....) and you would analyze your motive for speaking the warning or whatever ... is it for your own glory? or is it because you really want the best for the person to whom you are speaking or what?
4. Well, you get the idea. You just chew upon / meditate upon / think upon each word, phrase, thought, concept, etc. in the verse(s) you memorized and you try to find out what God is really teaching in these verses, what He wants you to know, how He wants you to live or act or be or do (If you are meditating with your eyes open and at your desk, you can pull some books off the shelves and look up the meanings of various words such as love, find out what what they mean and consider that information also).....
5. And, as you learn these things (i.e. what God is teaching, what He wants you to know or be or do or whatever) then you pray your thoughts, understandings, insights, and desires, etc. back to him. For example, in this passage, you might already have "discovered" that many times you are speaking to others to witness to them or tell them about salvation or whatever, but you are not doing it because you truly "love" that person, but just because you want another "notch in your belt" of good things you have "done" for God. Your heart attitude was not right. So, now, upon discovering this, you immediately stop and say / pray to God and say "Oh Father, I am so sorry! I see now that my heart has NOT been right as I have witnessed to Joe (or Jane or Sue or whomever). I really did not care so much about their soul as much as I cared about winning "brownie points" with You. Oh Father, help me to see people as individuals in need of Jesus as their Savior! Help me to understand that they will go to an eternity in Hell if they don't accept Jesus as their substitute savior. My life has NOT lived up to what I have been saying to them. I have not been consistent in my witness to them. I have said one thing and lived another way and this has confused them and turned them off ! Oh Father, forgive me and change my attitudes. Help me to see others with the Love that Jesus and You and the Holy Spirit have for them! ... etc etc etc" ... you get the idea.
6. And then you go on to the next word or phrase or verse... and similarly think about what it is saying and teaching and what you should learn from it and how this can influence or change your way of thinking, living, being, relating, etc.
7. and then to the next word or phrase or verse..... and the next ... and the next....
One of the PURPOSES of memorizing is to enable you to mediate even in those times when you don't have a Bible or study materials with you, or because you are in bed with the lights out and you can't read in the dark, or you are somewhere where you have a few minutes of time and you want to think about God ... etc....
Also, lest you think you can ONLY meditate upon things which you have memorized -- that is not true. Memorizing just makes it easier in that you will have memorized passages available at all times.... but.... you can also meditate while simply reading the Bible. You do it the same way... i.e.. read a word or phrase or verse and then stop and think about it (just like you did with the "memorized" passages.) In fact, this is really the way you should read your Bible -- by thoughtfully reading each word, phrase, etc. and thinking about what you are reading and praying to God as you read based on what you are reading. (indeed, this is sometimes called "praying scripture back to God" ... so now you know how to do that, too! Wow, what a lesson !)
Anyway, back to the topics at hand: Memorizing and Meditating! Another PURPOSE of memorizing is to "hide God's word in your heart so you will not sin against Him".... which means, that IF you have memorized verses, chapters, etc., then, there will be times when God will remind you of these ... and in so doing will help you answer a question you might have or that a friend (whom you are counseling or talking with) might have, or, even to remind you to do or not do something that you are about to do or not do and help keep you from sinning. Or, when you do sin, God can remind you through the verses you had memorized, so that you confess that sin and can have your fellowship with God restored, and etc etc etc. Oh, there are sooooooo many beneficial uses for Memorizing God's Word and then Meditating upon God's word, that it would be a whole 'nother discussion it itself. But, as I have said before, you get the idea.
The whole point of all of this is:
So, as we bring this lesson to a close, let me thank you for your perseverance in learning how to memorize and to mediate. And, let me thank you and for memorizing Chapter 13 (you did, didn't you?)
My prayer now is that you will use this "knowledge" and spend the rest of your life memorizing and mediating upon various passages that the Lord brings to your heart and mind as you read and study His word!
And, we will, Lord willing, continue our study of 1 Corinthians in the
next lesson! So... until then......