This passage is read at weddings, taught in basic Bible studies, and offered as a test of genuine love. However, Chambers says that we cannot use it to prove anything . . .
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. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. (1 Corinthians 13:4–8)
Those who love others do not plan what they are going to do to show it; they just show it. In that way, love is not a premeditated action. It is spontaneous. It reveals itself without thinking of ways to do it.
The love that this passage talks about is unnatural too —it comes from God, not the human heart. When Christians live in the power of the Holy Spirit and under His management, love for others is so natural that we don’t think about it or even discern it until after it is expressed.
“ . . . God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:5)
Without the Holy Spirit, I know my inability to love. I am selfish and concerned only about myself. The love of God is expressed when the Holy Spirit pours it into my heart, and that love, poured into the hearts of God’s people, has changed the world.
Early Christians were known for their love: “ . . . you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.” (1 Thessalonians 4:9) This love showed up in their care for widows and orphans. They rescued thrown-away children, tended the sick, and nurtured the poor. Christians started schools, hospitals, and orphanages. Our best legal systems are based on biblical principles. Without this sacrificial and spontaneous love, the world is full of hate and violence.
Yet this love is individual as well as corporate. People say they will not believe our message unless they know we care and such caring is not a planned action. It must be spontaneous, the driving-force of our lives.
Not only that, I cannot love as God wants me to love without knowing how deeply He loves me. I must live in the power and grace of the Holy Spirit too. If I try to run my own life, even run it by trying not to be rude or selfish, irritable or resentful, I will not have the power and grace to be patient and kind. In my human kind of love, I will still want my own way, envy others, and boast, even secretly, about how good I am. None of that describes the love of God.
Finally, as Chambers says, if I try to prove to God how much I love Him, then I do not. The evidence is spontaneity — it comes naturally and flows from His gift to me of His own Spirit of love!