1 Corinthians 13
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonour 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.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
This is probably one of the most well known chapters in the Bible. It is a favourite for many who are looking for their reading at their wedding ceremony and more often than not used in the context of marriage. However Paul’s intent is much wider than weddings. Paul emphasises very strongly that this is the greatest gift that we should desire. If we use our gifts without the driving force being love there is a hollowness in what we do.
Love means many things to many people. Paul does a great job in giving a picture of what real love looks like. Love is other centred, love is intentional, and love challenges our natural sinful desires. We find it difficult to be patient, it is a challenge not to compare ourselves with others that leads us either to envy or pride. It seems impossible not to keep a record of how others have wronged us and we want to repay those who have offended us.
When we look at John’s gospel and probably the most famous verse in the Bible, ‘For God so loved the world’ (John 3:16), we see that Jesus on the cross fulfilled all the characteristics of love: Jesus’ patience with His accusers, crowd and soldiers, Jesus’ kindness to His mother, Jesus’ humility in dying as a criminal. He honoured the criminal next to Him who saw his own sinfulness with eternal life, Jesus did not get angry but forgave those who crucified him. Jesus defeated evil and fulfilled the truths of the Old Testament prophecies. Jesus protected our salvation; He trusted in God His father despite being forsaken. Jesus showed that love wins by dying for us to buy our eternal salvation.
We should love in the way that Jesus showed, and in the way that Paul defines love by dying to self and seeking the Holy Spirit’s strength and guidance to enable us to do so. What an incredible witness it would be if you and I would love like this.
Prayer based on Psalm 65
Father God, we come before you as we know you are the one who answers prayer. We thank you that we can come and confess our sins before you; we especially confess that we have not loved as we should. Not only have we not loved those in the world but we have not loved our brothers and sisters in Christ as we should. Please forgive us because we know that Jesus has atoned for our sins. Give us Lord, the gift of love to love in the power of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.