1 Corinthians 13: Paul’s more excellent way…
This is a poetic expression of what has true value in life in the middle of controversy over gifts.
Off-beat, annoying, distracting, abrasive.
“2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”
The world is scared of people who can manipulate the world around them. The Corinthians were jealous of the people who had gifts showed God’s power. But without love, it had the lifespan of a mayfly.
“3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.”
It is hard to imagine God asking me to give up all my possessions. Yet even if I gave up everything down to my life, and did it with the wrong attitude, it would not gain me anything. What a waste to live without love!
“4 Love is patient and kind;”
…at home, at work, in traffic, with loud and slow people…
“love does not envy or boast;”
…rather than trying to push myself up a ladder and other people down…
“it is not arrogant 5 or rude.”
…it does not know everything, or block people out…
“It does not insist on its own way;”
…love understands I am not always right.
“It is not irritable or resentful;[b]”
…after a long day, or a disappointment…it looks for the good rather than camping on the bad…
“6it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”
….while some may applaud the wiles and tricks of the world, love shouts for joy when God’s truth is spread.
“7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
…love goes further, climbs higher, gives up more. Jesus climbed down from heaven into a shell of atoms and cells, a tongue that grew into words, and language that could not capture God’s thoughts. Paul says it well in Ephesians 3:17-19
“17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
I thought of this song as one version of that idea.
“8 Love never ends.”
Isn’t that amazing! Because God is love, and He is eternal, there is no maximum output of His love. It does not stop for rebellion, but pulls at us to come back to a good relationship again. God does not give up on us! And if we embrace that relationship He offers, we will get to experience the humor, the passion, the adventure of that love after the stars go cold.
“As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.”
Chaldeans. Latin. How to make that color blue. How the pyramids were built. What the significance of 2012 really was. There is so much that is eroded from history.
“9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
When I was a kid, I thought that going to the beach was cool. Now I can see so many more places to explore! It is the difference between squinting through a keyhole and going into the room. Love opens that door. It is not a one-day relationship, but one that will last forever! It is Jesus trying to use earth-words to describe something we have no real reference for: a lion for someone who has only known tabby cats. The ocean for someone from the Midwest. It takes a frame of reference that we can only glimpse. And that is this world that we use our gifts in, spend money in, interact in…the big picture will blow our minds!
“13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the certainty of things not seen…(Hebrews 11:1), so as soon as we have reached Heaven, faith is fulfilled. Hope is realized. And love reigns forever.
God, Your love is overwhelming! Please help me to live in praise to You, desiring to be in relationship, and not caught up in the dust-cares of this life. I want to see from Your perspective better and better. Thank You for this journey of love. Amen.