I Cor. 13: 4 – 8 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails (NASB)
In part two, we looked at 6 different loves in the Greek. Examining the passage above, the Spirit through Paul penned God's definition of love. Can we love as above described without help from The Lord?
Considering only two loves, can this passage be lived in deep Storge (affection) or Phileo (brotherly) love of great utility, loyalty, and sacrifice? My belief through much study,while extremely difficult is yes.
With Storge and Phileo love, whether a noble or ignoble causes, people like Nelson Mandela (forgiveness councils), Mahatma Gandhi, soldiers on a battlefield or a mother or father for a child. People with a nature built, trained, or inherent to them walking in these loves can do the above. Kamikaze pilots or terrorists of today give, bear, toured, or die. Sacrificially as a soilder jumping on a grenade to save comrades or a parent pushing a child from a oncoming car. In cultures of antiquity allowing substitutionary death for another. To die for their convictions and in love not knowing God. Others cure diseases, make vaccines, bring relief supplies and provide medical help desiring no recognition. Display patience, kindness, no ego, without rudeness, stand for what is right, etc...
All of the above in tremendous Storge or a deep Phileo possess the motivation as a believer or non-believer to live attributes of this passage. Often, superbly moral and rigtheous non-believers put me and other Christians to shame when it comes to loving other people. Then what is different God speaks of in this scripture?
I Cor. 13: 3 – And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. (NASB)
We can perform the traits of this love while meaningless, apart from God's love in Christ. We must allow Christ love of true agape/charity love to be lived for everlasting consequence. Christians and non-Christians alike if held in prison want freedom, captives for chains broken, sick or lame to be made whole. God's unconditional love in the Good News of Jesus Christ mightily performs these in and through us ... if permitted.
First hearing James Dobson speaking of 'tough love,' as mortals there is no actual comprehension of this love. God's love is tender and gentle singing over us (Zeph. 3:16, 17), containing an intimacy, gentleness, and closeness not experienced on earth with another human. Ponder Christ's tough love endured for you and me.
(Reference Psalm 22, Isa. 53, Luke 22, Mark 15)
God's omnipotent grace in Jesus Christ and love on the cross defeated sin, hell, death, sickness, and the grave. It does not diminish, minimize, or make less valid His omnipotent judgment, wrath, righteousness, holiness, justice etc. It in no way affects His sovereignty. God is Love. (I John 4:8) He now offers to all who choose life eternal in Christ, making a home with His Spirit in us. We too can now love ourselves as God intended and our neighbor as ourselves.
What does this passage lived in enormous Storge and Phileo love with great training result in endlessly? The application mirrors John 15, apart from Christ nothing is yielded of Kingdom value. The love in I Cor. 13: 4- 8 does not fail for it is God's love lived unconditionally (agape/charity) to do His will and good pleasure and testify of Christ. (Isa. 55, in word also)
Experiencing warm, close, fuzzy feelings, and emotions can occur with agape love. The call is a choice in Christ even with no emotion or pain and agony. Love apart from God's serves a purpose in this temporal life only; nothing of eternal value.
Our call to 'tough love' endowed by display, is freedom to believers mired in sin or apathy. To non-believers the power of God, drawing all men to Him if lifted up, coming not to condemn but save. (John 3) Christ demonstrated tough and tender love headed to crucifixion, during, and rising from the dead.
The last part of the series will examine God's work of love for us in the power of the cross.
Rom. 5:8 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us NASB)
Attributions: All Scripture ReferencesNew American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
We do see some faint traces of the traits of this love but as you say, without Christ it is meaningless.
I believe you are onto an important truth, for we Christians do not hold a monopoly on righteousness.