1 Corinthians 13:1-13
13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 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 do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 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. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 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 the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
If you have ever researched what the Bible says about love, the chances are good that you have read these verses! This is certainly one of the most well-known passages about love that can be found in the scriptures. It has been quoted in films and is often read at weddings, because of the way it describes what real love truly looks like. As someone who has read these verses many times, I am struck again by how much gold is here, and how practical it is.
It is clear that the way the Bible describes love is often in direct opposition to how we can sometimes look at love. Biblical love is not about us being fulfilled, or about us using other people to gain what we want, or really about us at all! The way these verses describe love actually portray a list of selfless traits that honour, respect and care for those around us.
In fact, even ‘doing good things’ is not deemed lovely unless such things are done in a spirit of selfless love. If you’ve ever been around a very noisy and persistent siren or alarm, you might have an understanding of how annoying a clanging bell can be! Yet the Bible describes good actions done without love in the very same way – they might get attention but they are not enjoyed!
I am grateful for the explicit explanation here of what love is designed to look like. How helpful it is to have it written here so that we can better understand the way God loves us and wants us to love others.
God, we thank you for your extravagant love towards us. Thank you that you yourself are love. Help us to be people who are known by the way we love others selflessly. Amen.
Written by Ps. Madelaine Tarasenko