Love Is the Greatest
13 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[b] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 9 Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.
11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.[c] All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
This is quite a short chapter, but the message is powerful and very clear. Having all the gifts available from God are of no value if we don’t use them with love for others in our hearts and with the motive of loving our neighbor as ourselves, genuinely loving them. Let me share a quick story i read today that relates to this:
A little girl was invited for dinner at the home of her first-grade friend. The vegetable was buttered broccoli and the mother asked if she liked it. “Oh, yes,” the child replied politely, “I love it!”
But when the bowl of broccoli was passed, she declined to take any. The hostess said, “I thought you said you loved broccoli.” The girl replied sweetly, “Oh, yes ma’am, I do, but not enough to eat it!”
Do you love your family? “Of course I do!” We all would say that! It’s the only right answer. But what do you mean by love? So often we love our family like that little girl loved broccoli: We love in the abstract, but when it comes right down to it, we don’t want to get too close. In the words of the Apostle John, we love in word, but not in deed and truth
So what does love look like in action? Paul gives us a list of things that we can compare our words vs actions.
- not jealous
- not boastful
- not proud
- not rude
- doesn’t demand its own way
- not irritable
- keeps no records of wrong
- does not rejoice about injustice
- rejoices in truth
- never gives up
- never loses faith
- always hopeful
So when we think about our own interactions with family, friends, acquaintances and strangers, can we honestly say that we fulfill these criteria? Do we bring up the past even when we say we’ve forgiven? Are we secretly happy when someone fails? Are we patient with others? During this time of Covid 19, are we criticizing people for how they choose to isolate and social distance compared to you? Do we get irritated around certain people for no good reason other than they annoy you? Are you finding ways to bless people even in isolation? I don’t know about you, but I see I have some work to do in some areas yet. 🙂
Lord, help each one of us to love others as you would like us to. Help us to recognize where we are falling short and help us to work towards making that better. Give us a new love for people around us today. Thank you in the name of Jesus, amen.