15 Definitions of Love

June 2, 2019
Pastor Andrew Huang
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Audio only

15 Definitions of Love

Video References: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqtG-XfxMC4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3pAxAHT0jg


Hey Church, I’m pretty excited about the passage we’re going into today because number one I feel like I haven’t done line by line expository teaching for a while, and so I get to do that today. Secondly the passage I’m going to read to you is...one of those passages, I bet, you have heard it before, it is like the most well-known scripture passages of the entire bible, one of the most popular wedding passage of all time, but I’m telling you if you really think about what is being said in this poem, Man it is convicting; There is some real power in this passage.

A friend of mine used to read this passage to his wife every night for a period of time, and each time she would just be in tears.

The people who first read this passage (the people that this passage was written to) I bet you when they first read it they cried too, but for different reasons and I hope to explain that to you in a bit.

We are in a series that we’re calling Community-ology. Want to try saying that? Community-ology. It’s a series where the theology of the Bible shapes the community of our lives, so we’re calling it community-ology. Every Sunday we are addressing a particular problem in community.

Three Sundays ago we talked about

the problem of not having hard but necessary conversations and how by not doing so relationship can fall apart.

Two weeks we talked about the problem of being hurt by community.

Last week we talked about the problem of being in a community but not really feeling like you’re connected.

Today we are going through a passage written to the church in Corinth that was going through some problems.

First I will

Read the passage

and then you tell me if you have a sense of what the problem or problems might be, okay?.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Ok, did you catch the problem that the church was having? Let me put it like this. From verses 4 to 7 you have a poem about love. The romantic people call it a poem. The geeky people call in a definition. If you look at the outline you know which one we are. Just kidding. 15 definitions of love. Notice the first two are positive. Notice the last four are positive. And right in the middle, right in between are 9 definitions of love that are negative.  Which leads me to wonder out loud whether Paul might have been a little Asian-American? Why so negative, why so much negativity?

The list describes his readers!

Because this was everything the church was.

They were envious of each other. (They had factions. They were jealous of the abilities of one another)

They would boast.

They were arrogant.

They were rude. (They got drunk at the Lord’s Table!)

Each insisted on their own way.

They were irritable

They held grudges against each other. (They even took each other to court)

They rejoiced at wrongdoing (one guy step with his stepmother and some people in the church applauded this and were proud of the person who did that!)

Talk about problems. This was a church with every kind of problem!

Guess who founded this church? Paul did.

Let me just start by asking you, anyone here ever been hurt by community at church? I’m not justifying it, no excuses, but I guess I’m saying that church is not just a museum for saints, but it’s also a hospital for sinners, and sinners hurt each other, and it’s been going on since the New Testament until now.

Here’s another observation just to get you going. We read this passage at weddings, right. But this was a poem that was used in the context of relationships at church. Some of us are married with kids, and you’re like that’s all the community I need. Not sure Paul thought that was true. One time Jesus was with other believers and his biological family was at the door calling for him, and instead of popping up to go to the door, he stayed where he was with the people who were so hungry for God’s word, and he said, in effect, Do you want to know where my mothers and brothers are? They are right here, everyone who wants to do the will of God. So Wow, what does that mean? Biological family is not enough. And it also means that church family is important, and these relationships we have with each other are really important and worth investing in!

OK, you all ready to go through the text? Line by line?

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

1 Corinthians 13:1-7 ESV


First of all, it seems like Paul is personifying love here. Love is like this, Love is NOT like this; this is what love does, this is what love does not do.

Love becomes a person and walks on stage…

Paul who are you thinking about here?

Fifteen definitions of love. You ready?

*BTW I made a mistake with the outline. If you’re following along please cross out number #_____ and add a part 2 to number #11


I remember the story of a kid in our church who was playing the game if each family member could be a superhero who would they be. He goes, I know what mom would be. She would be the Hulk. Because every time she gets mad she turns into a big great monster!

The word for patience has no English equivalent to do it justice.

Instead of patience, the King James version says: Love is long-suffering. Love suffers long.

The word for patient is Makro-thumeia

Makro means “far away”

Thumeia means “anger”

Put it together: to put anger far away.

Its the picture of someone of power standing over the person that he or she has a right to destroy. You have a spear and they are at your mercy and you do not have the heart to do it.

It’s David standing over King Saul while he is sleeping…

King Saul who betrayed David

King Saul who is hunting David down like a dog

David who snuck into his camp in the middle of the night…

And is standing over him with a spear in hand

David’s friend saying kill him kill him kill him

And David saying No

Love is makrothumei it is to put anger far away.


I went to go visit my cousin in Shanghai. Professor, missionary, deep thinker. And he has a daughter at the time who was 17 years old. And she is ready to start dating. And so he tells me what he’s been telling her. Sage advice. He says, I tell her the last thing you want to do in life is to marry a jerk. Better to date a jerk and have him treat you like trash, and then say, Never going to do that again. Better to do that, than to marry one and be stuck with one for the rest of your life.

So I say, well what do you tell her to look for in a guy?

He says, I tell her marry someone who is kind.

Notice that patience is different from kindness.

Patience is passive

Kindness is active.

Patience is not giving into anger

Kindness is actively doing good


3. isn’t envious

I think that one is self explanatory…


4. isn’t boastful

to be boastful is to have an inordinate desire to call attention to oneself.

The opposite of boatful is humble.

CS Lewis wrote this:

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody.

Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him.


5. isn’t proud

The word for arrogant here means puffed up.

In the animal kingdom you have certain animals that can puff up in certain situations when they are in danger. We’re talking King Cobra, Elephant Seal, Puffer Fish. Ironically, other animals can do that also when they want to mate. Hmmm. But the point is they will puff up to look bigger than then actually are, so its a form of deception. People do the same. We will talk about how good we are, how noble we are, how we would never do such a thing, we talk about our accomplishments because we want to appear bigger than we really are.

A friend of mine made an observation. He said do you want to know if someone you  have just met is a graduate of Harvard? I said, How do you know? You continue to talk to them for 5 whole minutes. And they’ll find a way to let you know. Sometime 5 seconds is all it takes. Hi my name is Tom. I went to Harvard. They are like wearing a Harvard shirt. I’m being rude to people who went to Harvard.

But actually, I don’t know maybe there are Harvard people in the room. I don’t know who you are, will find out later after five minutes of conversation.

Pastor Andrew, love is not rude.

I had a buddy named Spencer who is a medical doctor.

He met somebody new one day and this is how the conversation went.

Hi there, Spencer what do you do for work?

I work in rehab.

Like what kind of rehab?

I help people with disabilities

Are you like a physical therapist, nurse, occupational therapist?

Suddenly it became like 20 questions

Spencer is like Yeah, yea like that, like in the medical field.

Spencer just tell the man you’re a doctor!


6. isn’t rude

“To be rude is to behave shamefully or disgracefully.“

Anyone here married?

You save your nice for work and school

So you’ve spent all your nice and when you come home all you have left is your mean.

But you justify it, you say, when I come home that’s when I just like to keep it real

This happens to me a lot

I am busy

Rana is busy

We both come home tired

We spent it all at work and out there

Now we have nothing left for each other

So I am irritable

And she is too

But both of us can see how rude the other person is

But we don’t have much insight for ourselves!

You are being rude

No, you are being rude

But you were rude first!

Someone needs to absorb the hostility, knowing that by absorbing it the hostility can fade away.

Someone needs to think, you know, I’m tired right now. I’m acting rude. I’m sorry.

Someone needs to think, you know, Ok she’s acting rude. But I bet you its because she’s tired.

Someone needs to intentionally hold back at work, so they have more to give when they come home.


7. isn’t self-seeking

it does not seek their own good but the good of others


8. isn’t irritable

I heard someone put this into their own words and say: Love has a long fuse

Imagine this bomb, normally the fuse is like two inches long. Imagine a fuse that is like twenty meters long.

He or she is willing to absorb hostility out of love for the other, knowing that by absorbing it, that hostility can fade away. You’re a hostility sponge.


9. isn’t resentful

You know how resentment works?

Resentment is unforgiveness compounded over time.

Let me show you what it looks like.

It can start small.

As small as a two pound weight.

There were opportunities to appreciate you and I failed to do so.

I made a comment that was slightly critical of your parenting.

So I put a debt of weight upon you. Not huge but like a two pound weight.

So you’re holding it. Hold it like this.

Now what happens if the person hold this grudge and it compounds with time?

Let’s say you hold this and two days later what is going to happen?

You shoulder is swollen; your bicep is enflamed. And then the next day I ask you to carry a pen on this arm, and you are howling in pain.


10. doesn’t rejoice in wrongdoing


11. rejoices with the truth


12. bears all things

One time my mother was giving me an unsolicited health lecture.

It was about all the benefits of gargling with salt water.

And these lectures have not been good for my relationship with her.

And they haven’t been good for my brother’s relationship with her.

So I felt like I needed to point that truth out to her.

Yeah, it did not go so well.

So I call Rana afterwards and I’m like, Man my mom just doesn’t get it.

She’s like have you heard of the discipline of bearing?

I’m like, what?

Have you heard of the discipline of bearing?

Bearing children? Not really into that.

So my wife proceeds to explain to me that there is this discipline called the discipline of bearing. And its absolutely essential to practice this discipline if you are going to love older people well. Because when you get older its harder for people to change. And people in different life stages need to be loved in a different way. And when people get older they tend to just say it like it is.

Sometimes you speak the truth in love, and sometimes, especially for older people, younger people just have to bear it. You smile. You joke around. You say, Thanks for the health tip, Mom. You just bear it. That or you gargle with salt water.

Love bears all things.


13. Believes all things

What, is love gullible? Believe all things?

A person shows up ten minutes late to work. There is a knowledge gap. Was traffic bad? Or is this person just lazy? Or does this person have a different take on time?

Love fills in the gap with trust.

Well, if you were ten minutes late and I asked you why, no one would say, well it’s because I’m lazy. You would add compassion and belief in your humanity to your explanation. Well, do the same with others.


14. Hopes all things


15. Endures all things

The word for endure is hupo-meno.

Hupo means under

meno means to remain

put it together to remain under, the affliction under which one remains steadfast.

I’m getting squeezed but I’m not going to take any shortcuts

Hopefully this all has been a feast for your mind.

I’d like you to look at the list and choose one that stand out to you.

I’d like you to put it into your own words and share that definition with another person next to you.




I’d like to show you the beauty of what this looks like…

I’d like to show you a video of an interview from the Arabic Language TV network

A reporter interviews a  young Iraqi Christian girl, who is living in a refugee camp.

Her family was displaced because of ISIS. They lost their home because of ISIS.

She gave this interview and it went viral.

And I think it went viral because the Middle East is not a place that is known for forgiveness.

It is not known as a place of letting go of resentment.

So I want you to watch this video, and you’re going to see a reporter and a little girl, but I want you also to see if there is a person that you cannot see who is also walking through this video.

That is a beautiful story and I was wondering is you sensed that story pointing to a PERSON?


I’d like to tell you the story of Robertson and Muriel McQuilkin

They were a very godly couple.

They raised six children

They served for 12 years as missionaries in Japan.

When they came back to the US, Roberson became president of Columbia Bible College

One day, during a trip to Florida to visit some friends. Muriel loved to tell stories, and she began telling a story she had just finished a few minutes earlier. “Honey, you just told us that,” Robertson said, but she laughed and went on.

As the next few years went by, Robertson watched as his fun, creative, loving partner slowly faded away. She had Alzheimer’s.

Robertson knew he needed to make a decision about his career. The school needed him 100 percent, and Muriel needed him 100 percent.

Watch this video but look at the beauty of the principle and person that walks through it… long is isn’t self-seeking, long-suffering, love endures all things

Another beautiful story, but can you see that story pointed to a Person?

One last story…

The Bible says that God is love. Two thousand years ago Love walked among us. God’s Son became a human being. When he was with us, he said incredible things and he did incredible things…

When he spoke, people wouldn’t just say Wow that was eloquent, they would say, Wow that was powerful. They were amazed at the authority of his words.

And he did incredible things.

He healed a man born blind…

He raised a little girl that had just died back to life.

He raised his friend who was dead for three days. He was wrapped like a mummy, came out of the grave.

But perhaps the most remarkable thing about him, was the way he loved.

And he showed people the fullest extent of his love by sacrificing his life on a cross to turn away the wrath of God for our sins.

After soldiers had nailed spikes through his sins, he prayed for them and said, Father please forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.

And even though he could have said a word and thousands of angels would have come to his rescue, he never said the word. He took the cross, he took the pain, he stayed, he endured it, he endured it, Love bears all things.

This is a love that we sing about.

One person wrote:

My Lord, what love is this? That pays so dearly. That I, the guilty one, may go free!

Amazing love, o what sacrifice, the Son of God given for me!

What love is this?

What love is this?

That pays so dearly?

Paul, I bet you were thinking about a person when you wrote this, weren’t you?

I imagine Paul. Of course, isn’t it obvious.

That person just walks out on stage.

So let’s just name it.

Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind. Jesus does not envy or boast; he is not arrogant or rude. Jesus does not insist on his own way; Jesus is not irritable or resentful; Jesus does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

Jesus bears all things

Jesus believes all things

Jesus hopes all things

Jesus endures all things.

Let’s pray.

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