1 Corinthians 13
In one of the most quoted passages at weddings, Paul’s poetic words paint a beautiful picture of love. After much theology and advice, he brings us to the linchpin of it all…love. All of the gifts, all of the knowledge, all of the faith, all of the humility and service -- no matter how impressive -- mean nothing if they are not rooted in love. Christianity is built on relationship, not religion, ritual or rules. And relationships are meaningless without love. It is the essence of who God is.
1 John 4:7-8 tells us God is love. And in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus teaches that it isn’t just about following rules, it is about the condition of our heart. And Jesus tells us that the way people will know we belong to Him is by our love. And He tells us the greatest commandments – the ones all the other laws and commandments hang off of – is to LOVE God and LOVE one another. And the greatest gift – the blood of Jesus to pay in full our sin debt and make us righteous – was based on love; for God so LOVED the world.
Paul wants to make sure we know what love is, and equally important, what love is NOT. I’m reposting this picture from February based on this chapter when I started working on a Bible for my daughter to give to her when she graduates in two years. This was the first thing I put in it. To me, it is a beautiful picture of the character of a big God that is hard to wrap our head around. And when I think about her heading off to college, I want her to remember these truths about love…love in her Savior, love in friendships, and even love in that cute guy that she starts dating.
The “love is” side is a gage for real love….patient, kind, rejoicing in TRUTH, bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things. It is a check on how we are being treated and how we are treating others. The “love is not” side -- envious, boastful, arrogant, rude, irritable, resentful, insistent on own ways, rejoicing in wrongdoing -- these are red flags both in our own hearts, as well as in assessing a potentially toxic friendship or relationship. One that may feel good in the manipulative moment, but it isn’t true, lasting, satisfying, fulfilling, mutually beneficial, edifying love.
Let us love real and love big and love one another well. Thank you, God, for being love and modeling love to your creation.
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