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Bible Study: December 1, 2013

NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.

This week’s Bible study is adapted from the MasterWork curriculum.

Bible Passage: 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Discussion Questions: When you think of 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, what thoughts come to your mind? When do you most often hear this chapter read? Why?

Food for Thought:

One of the first places people look for love in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 13. It’s one of the most famous passages in Scripture, mainly because it is read so often at weddings. Some people call it “the love chapter.”

First Corinthians 13 is the Bible’s most complete portrait of love. As familiar as it is, this chapter is not understood nearly as well as it ought to be, because people often read it out of context.

One way to make sure we do not miss what God has for us in 1 Corinthians 13 is to remember who the Corinthians were and what God said to them in this letter. If there was one thing the Corinthians needed, it was more of the love of Jesus. The church was sharply divided over theology, practice, social class and spiritual gifts.

When Paul wrote about love in chapter 13, he was not trying to give people something nice to read at weddings. Instead of preparing people for marriage, the apostle was trying desperately to show a church full of self-centered Christians that there is a better way to live — not just on your wedding day but every day for the rest of your life. The love chapter is not for lovers, primarily, but for all the loveless people in the church who think that their way of talking about God, or worshiping God, or serving God, or giving to God is better than everyone else’s.

When Paul gave us the list of things that are nothing without love in verses 1-3, he was really including all of our spiritual gifts and so-called accomplishments. Paul wasn’t denying the value of spiritual gifts or downplaying the importance of ministry in the church. He was saying what matters most is not how gifted we are but how loving we are.

Rather than congratulating ourselves for all the things we do for God, or looking down on people who don’t serve God the way we do, or thinking that we have it right and everyone else has it wrong, God is calling us to do everything in love. Otherwise, it is all for nothing.

MasterWork is an ongoing Bible study curriculum based on works from a variety of renowned authors and offers pertinent, practical messages that adults will find uplifting and enriching. The list of authors and their books to be studied in upcoming months can be found at www.lifeway.com/masterwork.

Other ongoing Bible study options for all ages offered by LifeWay can be found at www.LifeWay.com/SundaySchool.

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