Scripture Reference: 1 Corinthians 13
Suggested Emphasis: Show love to everyone.
The church in Corinth had a lot of problems and Paul addresses those in these two letters he writes to them. All of their bickering and selfishness amongst each other could be solved if they practiced one thing—LOVE. In this chapter Paul gives very practical advice on what love is and how to practice it.
We first learned of the city of Corinth when Paul visited there during his second missionary journey (Acts chapter 18). He had made his home there for a year and a half and managed to teach both Jews and Greeks about Christ. While in Corinth Paul financially supported himself by working with Priscilla and Aquila in the tent-making trade.
Now, time has passed and Paul has long since left Corinth. He is writing letters of instructions back to them. Reading through this first letter we soon discover that this church has many problems. The Corinthian christians are not unified and caring of one another. There are sharp disagreements and some members are even taking each other to court to solve things between them. Many are acting selfishly. Also, the church is not correcting people who are sinning so there is an sin problem in the church.
Despite all of these problems God has not given up on the Corinthian church. Many Christians there are even practicing spiritual gifts. Even so the church has many lessons to learn about how to love and obey God and how to love and respect other people.
And this chapter of love is also important to us today. Children and adults have many things to learn about love. The word “love” is used in many ways and in many contexts in our lives. We love God. We love each other within a marriage or within a family. We love our friends. The word can also be so common as loving food or sports teams or hobbies.
But “love” is more than just a word and it is more than just a feeling. 1 Corinthians 13 reveals that love is expressed in attitudes and actions.
Most importantly, understanding and practicing love is key to knowing God.
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
1 John 4:8, NIV
Our love for God and love for others cannot be seperated. Jesus understood this when he answered questions from religious leaders.
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31, NIV
Hearts have longed been used to depict love. Younger children think literally so take the time to explain the connection between the heart and the meaning of love. Paul explained love in practical ways so do the same but in ways a child understands. True love means loving with our hearts and our thoughts and in our words and actions. True love means showing love to people even if we are not in the mood or tired or even angry with someone. This is the kind of love that Jesus was talking about when he said to even love our enemies and people who treat us badly (Matthew 5:43-48).
An outline of what Paul writes in his letter about love:
- verses 1-3: No matter how many good things we might do they mean nothing if they are not done from a loving heart.
- verses 4-7: Love is practical and it shows in how we think, speak and act. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, 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. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
- verses 8-12: Love lasts forever and the Chrisian will spend a lifetime understanding it more clearly and practicing it in increasing measure. When all other actions and events of this earth have passed love will remain for eternity.
- verse 13: Faith and hope are also eternal but love is the greatest of all.
- What happened before this story?
- What happens after this story?
- List of all Bible stories and themes on this website.
Way to Introduce the Story:
Before class cut out a large paper heart. “Children, I am going to pass this heart around to each one of you. You each have thirteen seconds to write or draw on the heart one thing that you love.” Repeat this activity a few rounds and count to 13 each time. After there is a good selection of words on the heart then read some of them off to the class. “We can love food, our pets, friends, girlfriend, our parents, God . . .but are all of these kinds of love the same? Of course not. We do not love ice cream in the same way we love God!
Today we are going to learn about a special kind of true love that God wants us to feel in our heart, think about in our minds, speak about in our words and show in our actions.
Does anyone wonder why I counted to 13 each time we wrote on our big heart? I was actually giving you a clue about today’s lesson. Some very important words about love are recorded in our Bibles in the book of 1 Corinthians. Does anyone want to guess what chapter in 1 Corinthians is the chapter about love? 1 Corinthians chapter 13!
- What is agape? The kind of love that wants the best for someone.
- Where do we find the chapter on love in the bible? 1 Corinthians 13
- Name something that Love is: (any of these) patient, kind, happy with the truth, patiently accepts all things, always trusts, always hopes, always continues strong, never-ending.
- Name something that Love is not or does not do: (any of these) not jealous, does not brag, is not proud, not rude, not selfish, does not become angry easily, does not remember wrongs done against it, and is not happy with evil.
- Ha-la-la-la Song
- If You Love Jesus Song
- Jesus’ Love is a-Bubblin’ Over Song
- Love is Something If You Give It Away
- Refer to the Song Page on this website for more options.
Learning Activities and Crafts:
- Make a list of ways to show love this week.
- Have children write out the list of love attributes in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Use dictionaries if necessary to explain and/or illustrate each of these.
- Older children could create a love challenge based on 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Using a small piece of paper, each child writes down a way to show love during the following week. One challenge per paper. Have the children read the challenges out loud so that you can check to see if they are appropriate (and can be accomplished in a week). Then have the children fold the papers and place them in a basket or bowl. After this each child now draws out one folded challenge. This is their challenge for the week.
- Puppet Skit for Pre-schoolers: Try using simple finger puppets or soft toys for this cute application Loving one another Puppet Skit which was submitted by Jenny Ancell, Australia. You’ll just need to change the names of the brands and stores/shops to adapt to your situation.
- Write titles across the top of blank sheets of paper (Love is Patient, Love is Kind, etc.) and let the children draw pictures depicting each one. You could do the same with a long roll of newsprint.
- Do any craft using a heart. Adapt Valentine’s Day crafts.
- Let the children cut hearts out of pink or red paper and write parts of the verse on each heart. Provide flat chocolate bars and show the children how to wrap their paper around them. Give these away as gifts.
Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.
Other Online Resources:
- Colouring page and puzzle worksheets (Calvary Curriculum)
- Colour the border for I Corinthians 13 (teacherhelp.org)
- Printable patterns of young child (boy or girl) holding a heart-suits pre-schoolers (makinglearningfun.com)
- Application colouring page of children playing (christiananswers.net)
- Craft: Adapt this “curved-flap Valentine Card” by substituting today’s verse for the Valentine message. Printable pattern for card at http://www.enchantedlearning.com/
- Craft: Printable envelope and verses about the heart (thecraftyclassroom.com)
- Worksheet for pre-school “Same and Different Hearts” (abcteach.com)
- Paraphrase of I Corinthians 13 that is easy for children to understand (anabaptists.org)