If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 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. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 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. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 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. 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. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
The Love Chapter. We find it in books of literature. We hear it read at weddings. We listen to its words put to music. This passage is beautiful in its poetic flow and powerful in its conceptual truth. But is it ever hard to apply! It would have been convicting enough if Paul just left us to deal with love in all its abstractness. But, as usual, he had to get practical.
Paul explains that the absence of love cuts the significance out of the most gifted speaker, paralyzes the most profound prophet, and makes great faith fall flat. Love shows up in everyday life. It doesn't want what others have. It doesn't boast about achievement. It doesn't fly off the handle. It is never secretly pleased when a person gets what's coming to them. True love demonstrates kindness, trust, hope, and patience. It never gives up.
Can you imagine what our homes would look like and feel like if we began to apply this well-known chapter? Can you imagine how the atmosphere at our schools and workplaces would change? Can you imagine the impact churches could make in their communities if Christians ... well, acted like Christians? What will you do today to begin to take "The Love Chapter" off the page and apply it in your life?
Father, give us the desire to love others and the strength to love deeply. Help us move from simply reading Your Word to emphatically responding to it. In Jesus' name. Amen.