1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:13
And now I will show you the most excellent way.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Okay, now this is a passage we are way too familiar with. You need to read it with fresh eyes, not thinking, “Oh, yeah, this is the love chapter. I know all about this one.” I tend to think like that a lot. But there is always something to be gleaned from scripture, even the ones that we've read a thousand or more times! The Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). I believe part of the meaning of that is that it continues to speak to us in different ways no matter how many times we read it. It's not like other books that we can read once and get all we can get from it. The bible can be read over and over again and you still will never get all that can be gleaned from it! I love that about the bible! It's one of the many reasons why I love God's Word so much!
The main point of this passage is that if we do not love others and love God, nothing we do matters. Our highest calling is to love those around us. Not always the easiest thing to do. I believe some site verse 8 when they claim that speaking in tongues no longer happens in the Spirit. I believe you have to take this way out of context to make it mean that. It is saying that in the end, when Jesus returns that will be no longer. There will be no need for speaking in tongues or prophesying at that point. What will remain is our love for people.
This chapter always bothered me because it's filled with “always” and “never.” I don't know about you, but I'm never always anything! This is talking about God's love and is only possible in the Spirit. We will never as human beings on this earth be able to live this way all the time with all people. It should be our goal, however.
It certainly isn't saying that we shouldn't ever use our gifts. I think we established that in the last chapter, but it must be done with love for those we are serving.
One of the things Paul says that I would like to highlight is love not keeping a record of wrongs. I don't know about you, but I have been guilty of this a lot! Have you ever gotten in an argument with someone and suddenly found yourself complaining about things they did years earlier? I have, especially with my husband! I've often thought I'd forgiven those things, but when they come up again and again, it's obvious I haven't really. Sometimes I just have way too good of a memory and when he does something that is similar to what he's done before all the memories of the times he's done that before come forward in my mind. I really shouldn't bring them up, but I do. I think that is what Paul is talking about when he says love does not keep a record of wrongs.
I think another one we struggle with in our culture is not self-seeking. We are taught to look after #1. Meaning yourself. Of course, we know (or we should) that #1 is supposed to be God. It isn't always any our lives and our actions and words prove that. Even when dating and getting married, don't we seek after something for ourselves? I think that is why many marriages fail. After a while they are no longer getting what they were seeking. This can happen to friendships and family relationships as well. I'm not saying none of this applies to singles. It absolutely does, cause we are all called to love as God loves us. Think about why you are ending a relationship before you end it. Are you being self-seeking? If you are, you are not loving that person. Now, I'm not saying some relationships (not marriages) don't need to end. I've ended a few relationships where we seemed to only bring out the worst in each other, but if that's the case it's not helping anyone. Codependent relationships often must end.
Persevering is something we also don't learn much in our culture. We're taught to do what feels good, so when something no longer feels good we bail. We need to persevere through trials. This is another reason for divorce and other broken relationships is our lives. We just flat get tired and don't want to love anymore. So we quit loving. Persevere friends! Like I said there is a time for some relationships to end, but we need to pray and continue loving in any relationships God has called us to continue. Keep loving, no matter how hard it gets!
Next, we are going to understand everything completely one day, but until then, just keep loving people! That's all most people really need! Shine the light of Jesus through loving people everywhere you go!
Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me to love as You love. I need Your power to do this. I can't do it on my own. Help me to love the unlovely. Most of them just need to know they are loved. Help me to share where that love comes from, so they may know You, too. In Jesus' Name. Amen.”