This famous “Love Chapter” is primarily about work, not marriage

the most excellent way Feb 05, 2024

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you’re bound to see today’s passage popping up in your social media feeds as a reminder of how God calls us to love our significant others. But the context of this passage was not primarily marital love. Paul was writing about how to steward spiritual and vocational gifts.

After listing out gifts such as teaching, healing, and helping, Paul says this: “And yet I will show you the most excellent way….If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (see 1 Corinthians 12:31 - 13:1). And then, a few verses later, he launches into the famous, “Love is patient, love is kind,” etc.

Paul’s point is that you can be the most exceptional teacher, filmmaker, or entrepreneur on the planet. But if you work without love, you are “nothing” (see 1 Corinthians 13:2). While the world may call your work excellent, God does not.

Over the next five weeks, we’ll zoom in on five of Paul’s descriptions of love from today’s passage that are most difficult to live out at work. Let's start here: “Love is patient.”

That client whose constant delays make your life difficult? That boss who can’t stop micromanaging you? That little one who’s always barging into your home office? You and I are called to show love to these people through our patience with them. 

Why? Because “the Lord…is patient with you” and me (see 2 Peter 3:9). We deserved death after just one sin (see Romans 6:23). But God showed immense patience with us prior to salvation and continues to demonstrate patience with us today in our sanctification. Thus, we are called to be ludicrously patient with those we work with.

How? Here are three ways to cultivate patience with those we work with today. 

#1: Get specific about where God is patient with you. I’m in a season of habitually failing to love a certain “enemy.” The Lord is patiently sanctifying me here. And being cognizant of his patience with me has led me to be more patient with others who struggle with different sins.

#2: Remember that if not for God’s grace you’d struggle with the same shortcomings. If you value punctuality and are impatient with those who are late, remember that were it not for God’s grace, you too would be habitually tardy.

#3: Pray for patience. Right now, ask for God’s power to follow “the most excellent way” of loving those you work with through your patience with them today!


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