I’m looking at the Love chapter from 1st Corinthians this week. We read it at weddings. We touch on it now and then in Sunday school lessons. Maybe we stumble on some of its verses as we thumb through Valentine’s Day cards in the “Religious” category.
1st Corinthians 13 is a great read. Check it out here before I show you something important:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not 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 have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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 perfection comes, the imperfect 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 childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor 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.
Disclaimer: Important Information Ahead…
There’s something interesting going on in that section between “Love is Patient” and “Love Never Fails.” In the Greek, Paul uses 16 verbs to describe love. Not Adjectives. Verbs. He’s not telling us what Love Is. He’s showing us what Love Does!
In the Bible, love is active. It’s what we do. It’s going out of our way. It’s putting up with aggravation. It’s walking the pilgrim’s path with another. It’s in our acts of kindness and charity.
Love is only partly what we Feel. Most of what we hear about love or read about love has to do with feelings. In actuality, love is mostly about what we Do. Paul doesn’t mention anything about warm fuzzy feelings in this chapter.
Think about it this way: Jesus tells us to love our enemies. I struggle with that, just like anyone else would. I have a hard time mustering up pleasant feelings for people I don’t like. BUT, having “pleasant feelings” isn’t what Jesus is asking for. He is telling us, like Paul, to show love. The word Jesus uses, and the word Paul uses in this chapter over and over and over again is agape. Agape (a-ga-pe) is the kind of sacrificial love we receive from God. It’s a love that transcends feelings and comes to us in concrete actions. Look at what is says in another section of scripture: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” The Greek work for love, agape, is used again. It’s God’s active love for us. When it comes to loving even our enemies, it’s agape love, not a feelings base sentiment, that we express to them. If everyone practiced agape love, even toward enemies, I think we would find that we would have fewer and fewer enemies.
Enough about enemies, let’s talk about the people we like. How much do you love your spouse? How well do you love your kids? Here again, love is not measured by affection in your heart; it’s all about deeds. Are you showing love? I’ve been reading in Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages, about how we express and receive love. He reminds his reader that love is a choice. It’s a decision to serve the people we care about. It’s actions that communicate our commitment to them. Our relationships grow stronger when we actively show love to the people who are most important to us.
At the end of the day, love remains.
When we get to heaven, we won’t need faith. Faith will have become sight.
When we get to heaven, we won’t have hope. Hope will have become our new reality.
When we get to heaven, we will learn to love perfectly, just as we have been perfectly loved.
In Christ, we are going to spend all eternity “In Love.”
I think I just had a Warm Fuzzy Feeling at that thought!