I’ve been studying and preaching through 1 Corinthians 13 (sometimes known as Paul’s hymn of love) and one resource I’ve been using is Hugh Binning’s Christian Love. It’s not too long, but it is sometimes difficult to read because of the older language. However, it is worth the effort! Here’s a section I ran across today as I was looking at the phrase love “always trusts” (NIV):
It is certainly [excessive] love and indulgence to ourselves that makes us aggravate other men’s faults to such a height. Self-love looks on other men’s failings through a magnifying glass, but she puts her own faults behind her back.
Binning is alluding to one of Aesop’s Fables that explain how all men are born with two bags around their necks: One is full of the faults of others and it hangs on our necks in front of us, under our noses. The other bag hangs behind us, and it is full of our own faults. This means, of course, that we always see the faults of others, but it is hard to see our own faults. This is similar to the “log in the eye” teaching of Jesus in Luke 6. Here’s more:
[Excessive self-love] can suffer much in herself but nothing in others; and certainly much self-forbearance and indulgence can spare little for others. But charity is just contrary, she is most rigid on her own behalf, will not pardon herself easily…, and has no indignation but against herself. Thus she can spare much candor and forbearance for others, and has little or no indignation left behind to consume on others.
Does that make sense? In other words, if you don’t love someone you will be quick to look for, find, and point out other people’s flaws and sins while minimizing your own. If I don’t love my neighbor, I will not put up with my neighbor’s faults and sins, but I will easily put up with my own.
However, love is not that way. If you love someone, you’ll be patient and kind towards them, despite their flaws and sins, and you’ll be more upset with your own sins than theirs.
Indeed, love is patient, love is kind. …It does not boast, it is not proud, it does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs (1 Cor. 13:4-5 NIV).