Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoice with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Paul writes that if one can preach in many tongues but do not love, their work is empty like clanging cymbals. If others are well-read in theology, understanding like a prophet the mysteries of God’s wisdom hidden in Scripture, having the strongest of faiths but not having love, they are nothing. Yet, even if one was to die a martyr for the faith but not have love, they gain nothing.
Why is love so important, and what is love? How do we receive it?
As Paul describes love from v. 4-8, we need to know that we cannot put on love by ticking off this checklist of things. God, Himself is the very definition of love, and His love is made manifest in Christ. So we need to know Him. And through the work of the Holy Spirit, when we know Him, His love will manifest through us.
God is patient and kind. See how He waits for us to repent. He never forces us to turn to Him. He waits year after year as we run away from Him again and again. He does not get enraged in a fury and consumes us immediately. However, He gives us opportunity after opportunity to repent. He is patient and slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love.
God does not envy or boast. Look at Christ! He did not consider His glory in heaven something to be grasped, but He gave it all up and incarnated into this sinful world to die on a cross. Consider His humility. Christ did not envy glory, nor did He boast of His greatness. Instead, he humbly submitted Himself to the Father’s will.
God is not arrogant or rude. Did Christ insist on His own way as He headed for the cross? Did He resent? What did Christ do as He was mocked and cursed upon as He walked to Calvary? He was silent like a lamb to the slaughter. He did not fight back. Nor did He send legions of angels to save Himself and show the men that He was the Son of God. Instead, He endured the scorn and shame for the joy set before Him out of obedience to obtain salvation for God’s people.
At the same time, Christ proclaimed the truth. He did not compromise with wrongdoing and made it clear that He was the only way to truth and that there was no way to the Father except through Him. He furiously rebuked the Pharisees who obscured the truth of the Scriptures and made plain to everyone that He was the one and only Truth sent from above.
Christ is love, and His love is made manifest in that He died for our sins. If we are called to love others as Christ has loved us, how do we love? We will only learn as the Spirit works to bring us ever closer to Him.
Lord, please reveal to us the love of Christ. Bring us closer to You to know Your love and plant Your love in our hearts. Forgive us if we have sought to serve You coldly without love. Restore and kindle our hearts once again with Your true love. Have mercy on us, in Jesus name, amen.