3 Days of Prayer and Fasting (2018/05)
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (ESV)
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
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; 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.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Day 1: Loving God
Read: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Verse 4 begins with two positive descriptions of love as “patient and kind,” then proceeds with negative descriptions of what love is not. The two words “patient” and “love” describe love in its passive and active forms. The first word, “patient,” is literally a combination of two words that mean “anger” and “a long time,” it means that you don’t get angry for a long time. It means that you are “long-suffering.” This is the passive expression of love, how it responds to the offenses and provocations of others. The second word “kind” refers to the disposition to do good, even to our enemies, as God does, “love your enemies, and do good … for [God] is kind to the ungrateful and the evil” (Luke 6:35). It is the active posture of love. “To love,” then, in summary, is to suffer long and do good.
Paul uses these same two words to describe the love of God in Romans 2:4, where he says, “do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” We have spurned and offended God, our Creator, by living for ourselves and not for Him. We have sinned against Him by presuming that we know better than He does and breaking His laws. He has cared for us and provided for us, yet we have snubbed Him and stabbed Him in the back. And yet, God has been patient with us, so that we might turn from our sinful ways and return to Him.God has also been kind toward us. Scripture uses this word “kindness” to describe Christ (1 Pet. 2:3; cf. Ps. 34:8), and Ephesians 4:32says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God inChrist forgave you.” The kindness that we are to show to one another was first shown to us in Christ. Christ sought our good and died for us, so that we might live!
This is why 1 John 4:7-10 teaches that “God is love.” Read the description of love in this passage with God in mind. Do you truly believe that God loves you in this way? Does this fit your perception of God?
- Renounce false ideas and images that you have of God that is contrary to this description of love. Receive the love of Christ freely and fully and spend time praising and thanking God in response.
- Pray that God would protect you from the lies of the enemy who sows doubt, mistrust, bitterness, and resentment toward God.
- Pray that you would grow in your love for God.
Day 2: Loving One Another
Read: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Substitute your name for the word “love” in the description of love in verses 4-7. In what ways have you fallen short of this standard of love within the church? Do you ever “envy” and begrudge the status or blessing of another? Do you “boast” by masking your imperfections and failures and exaggerating your strengths and accomplishments? Is your speech aimed at lifting yourself up or in building others up? Are you “arrogant”? Arrogance is antithetical to love, because love requires high regard for others, while the arrogant have the highest regard for themselves, their opinions, their strengths, their righteousness, and they are self-confident and self-sufficient, which leads to disregard of others. Have you been “rude” by indulging your immediate, selfish desires without concern for how you are violating the conventions and courtesies of your relationships? Have you “insist[ed] on [your] own way”? Have you been willful and stubborn, reluctant to admit fault and resistant to reforming your ways? Have you been “irritable or resentful”? Are you easily aroused to anger or harsh with people? Do you hold grudges against people and use them against them? Do you “rejoice with the truth” rather than condoning “wrongdoing”? Do you “believe” the best about people and “hope” the best for them? Or are you suspicious and skeptical toward others? Do you “bear” and “endure” all things in the name of love?
- Repent of ways that you have fallen short in your love for fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. If the Spirit brings to mind specific instances when you did not love a brother or sister, confess this to him or her, and pray together for forgiveness and love.
- Pray that our church would grow in our love for one another, and that we would persist in our love despite disappointments.
Day 3: Loving Our Neighbors
Read: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
As verses 1-3 make clear, even the greatest possible thing that we can do for God and His church would be of no account without love. What are some good things in your life that you are tempted to pursue without love? Remember that God’s greatest commandment is to love Him and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Does your life reflect a proper priority of love for your neighbors?
- Repent of the ways in which you have prioritized less important interests and activities over loving and serving your neighbors. Pray that your “loves” in life would be rightly ordered, and that God would increase your love for your neighbors.
- Pray for specific neighbors, for opportunities to befriend and serve them, and for boldness to share the gospel with them.