Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the thoughts and words of this reading that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
The thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians is well-known as the Love Chapter. The central point of Paul’s entire message to the Corinthian church is found right here. Read between the lines of the Corinthian correspondence in the New Testament and it becomes evident that they had their struggles—just as we do—with understanding the love to which we are called and what it all means in relation to how we live our lives.
The Corinthians had become very concerned over proper beliefs and the way different individuals in the church had different kinds of gifts and abilities. They had a difficult time understanding how unity and diversity can both exist in the church, so in the twelfth chapter Paul used the analogy of a human body to try and get the Corinthians to view their gifts within the proper perspective. Just as a body has different parts and each part is important as they work together, so it is with the church. The church, Paul said, is the Body of Christ.
At the end of that chapter, Paul wrote, “And I will show you a still more excellent way…” He then went on to emphasize the single most important component necessary for that body to be healthy: love.
Love is the very life of the Body of Christ. Without love, Paul asserts, the greatest gift, the most outstanding ability, the strongest faith, or even the greatest sacrifice amounts to nothing. It is love that stands at the very center of the message of Jesus.
As Paul emphasizes the centrality of love in all that we are and all that we do, Paul describes what love is and what love isn’t, what it does and what it does not do.
The Greek word agape (translated as love) seems to have been a Christian invention — a new word for a new thing. The word was not nearly as common in literature at large or in the Greek Version of the Hebrew Scriptures as it is in the New Testament. In the relatively brief New Testament, there are more than 150 occurrences of the word. The word refers not so much to a feeling as to a matter of will and action. That’s obviously true, since we are commanded to love even those we don’t like. Agape is the basic element of Christ-likeness. Love is choosing to do right and to act in a loving manner toward others—no matter how you feel.
In the Guinness Book of World Records there is listed the shortest sermon ever preached. It was given by John Albrecht, an Episcopal priest in Michigan. He stood in his pulpit to preach, paused as he looked into the eyes of his congregation, and said “Love!” He then sat down. Some of Albrecht’s members said it was the best sermon he ever preached. Could his sermon have been any other word? Would any other word sum it all up like that word?
There is a lot of theology woven into hymns. To enhance today’s reading, I recommend listening to “The Gift of Love”.
1 Though I may speak with bravest fire,
and have the gift to all inspire,
and have not love, my words are vain,
as sounding brass, and hopeless gain.
2 Though I may give all I possess,
and striving so my love profess,
but not be giv’n by love within,
the profit soon turns strangely thin.
3 Come, Spirit, come, our hearts control,
our spirits long to be made whole.
Let inward love guide every deed;
by this we worship and are freed.
I hope you will take a few moments to let the words of this message and the emotion that always connects us to music connect with your soul. I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster