1 Corinthians 13
Open your mind and heart as you read the passage of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to yourself. Listen for God’s word to you.
In this chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul declares that no quality, whatever it may be, is of any worth without selfless, self-giving love. Paul describes the characteristics of true Christian love. It encompasses being patient and kind to everyone; it is not arrogant or rude. The one who loves considers others before themselves; they are slow to take offence, and keep no record of any wrong-doing, putting such behaviour behind them, and being glad when such wrongs are overcome. Christian love protects others in all cases. Nothing can stop it. It may be imperfect at this point in time, but the way of love leads those who follow Christ to the day when all imperfections pass away and full understanding dawns as we see Love face to face. Paul reminds his readers that love is supreme, overshadowing hope and faith, which whilst admirable qualities, are cold and hard without the presence of love. Love itself kindles faith and brightens hope.
Wesley’s view of Holiness
Wesley focused on Christian perfection or holiness because he wanted to help people get to
heaven. He believed that people could only see God if they were holy (Hebrews 12:14) and that
both creation itself and men and women could be transformed by the grace of God who not only
forgave sins but restored people into His image. Wesley accepted the doctrine of original sin,
believing that, as a person accepts Christ as Saviour and Lord and is forgiven, the process of
sanctification – the growth towards holiness – begins. The old has gone, the new is here! (2
So those who follow Christ can grow in grace and holiness. Wesley himself states there is such a
thing as perfection for it is mentioned repeatedly in Scripture. It is something believers grow into
– and it occurs before death. (Hebrews 6:1). He adds that only God can be completely holy, but
humankind can strive for holiness. It encompasses perfect love, it can be improved upon (and
missed out on) and it involves gradual growth as one follows Christ.
Some scholars believe that Wesley took his inspiration about sanctification or holiness from the
Fathers of the faith. Iraneus, for example stated ‘God’s purpose was that Adam and Eve would
grow in justice and in the knowledge of God, so that they would be ever closer to the creator – a
process which continues into eternity.’
Wesley’s three precepts of love were:
– Do no harm
– Do good
– Attend upon all the ordinances of God
Who do you know, or have read or learned about, whom you would call ‘holy’? Why do
you choose this person? How do they differ from other people?
• John Wesley described social justice as holiness which he further equated with love. Do
you agree/disagree with this definition? How would you describe social justice as you see
it (or don’t see it) around you today?
• Love is a decision. In these difficult days what situations irritate you? Where do you need
to decide to love more? What one thing would you ask Jesus to help you with in deciding
to love as opposed to having any negative reaction to a given situation?
• Are you prepared to allow God to form love in you, even though this means you may need
to re-order your life? Why/why not? What concerns do you have about allowing Him to do
• How do you feel about loving as an act of obedience? After this discussion how will you
feel if you decide not to love in a certain situation? What has made the difference?
• How/where can you set up a place of worship in your home during these days when church
• attendance is not happening? What will you do to set it aside and make it holy? What will
it mean to you?
• How can the group help you with the struggles you have mentioned during this session?
Pray that you may be a people of love. Pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been
raised during your discussion time, and in regard to other needs of the group.
Look for opportunities this week when you choose to love. Share with the group how it makes
you feel when you reach out to others in God’s love. What does it do to your relationship with
Him and with those whom you helped?