1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 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 do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
Food for Thought:
Almost every wedding I have ever attended had this Scripture read. In some ways this is a shame because it doesn’t get read many other times, even though it is one of the most moving testimonies in all of Scripture. This Scripture is not about romantic love, it is about agape love. In Greek culture, around the time when the New Testament was written, the word agape was a colorless and little-used word. However, some of the earliest Christians decided that they needed a special word to describe the nature of God’s love. So they took the almost unknown word agape, adopted it, and redefined it to fit their own purposes. The earliest Christians gave the word a distinctive meaning that pointed not only to human love but also to divine love. Agape love is spiritual and unselfish love. Agape love looks not to one’s own interests but to the interests of others.
For the Corinthian congregation, Paul felt that it was necessary to remind them of their responsibility to love one another. I don’t know if you know much about the Corinthian congregation, but they were struggling to love one another. Some people were excluding others based on their social class. One man was involved in an adulterous relationship with his father’s wife. In other words, some of the Corinthians were having a hard time loving one another. From time to time, all of us need to be reminded to love one another. Some of us need the reminder more often than others. That’s how it was for the Corinthian congregation.
O God, we thank you for infinite love that you show us on a daily basis. Teach us, O Lord, how to respond to your love by loving and caring for others. Help us to faithfully live out agape love in our lives. In your holy name we pray, Amen.