I was reading 1 Corinthians 13 today, and meditating on the practical application of the verses. I wrote down my thoughts and hope they’ll be an inspiration to you.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
I’ve recently been trying, again, to learn another language. My goal is to practice a little several days a week, and I’m progressing. But there’s still a long, long way to go before I feel fully comfortable and become fluent. Now, I’d love to tell myself that if I could speak with all the tongues of men and of angels, I’d be doing pretty well. I might even pat myself on the back a time or two. Realizing this made the verse have so much more meaning to me—showing how truly important love is above all accomplishments.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
I’m so thrilled to be able to hear personal words from Jesus when I need guidance. I also really enjoy that feeling when God does a miracle and my faith grows, so that the next time, I’m more confident that He’s going to handle it. I can see, though, that intrinsically tied in with these gifts is God’s great love that makes it all work.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
I’m part of Helping Hand—a busy missionary and humanitarian project in Cape Town, South Africa. We distribute a lot of goods to the poor, and sometimes during those early mornings or late nights, I do get a little burned out. This verse reminded me that it’s only love that is our motivation—the unending love of Christ that “comforts us when we are in trouble, so that we can share that same comfort with others in trouble.”1 That’s what keeps us going.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Well, that pretty much speaks for itself. I’m no model example of suffering long and being kind, or behaving right always, or being unselfish, or not getting provoked, or always focusing on the truth, or enduring all things. Sometimes I’m … well, quite the opposite.
Here’s something powerful to remember, though: Love even works to cleanse what isn’t loving. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”2 “Love covers a multitude of sins.” [[1 Peter 4:8 NLT]] So while I do want to continue striving to have that love that these Bible verses mention, I know that even when I don’t, Jesus does. He is love. He is the truest example of love the world has ever seen. And if I stay close to Him, His love will rub off on me more and more.3
Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part will be done away.
How true that love is the easiest thing to understand. Even a baby understands love. Love is really our foundation and our priority, because all those other things base off of and grow from love—both for God and for others.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
When I arrive in heaven, I know I’ll be awed at the results of the little loving deeds I’ve done here. I’m sure I’ll wish I’d done more, but the wonder of seeing how the results have spread far beyond my region, work, and life, is a thrill I’m looking forward to!
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
How many songs, books, poems, and letters have been written about love? More than we can imagine! And yet, there’s a single act that forever defines love—the voluntary, humble, forgiving, and eternal love of God in Jesus when He died a terrible, difficult, unfair, and mortal death, so that we would never have to face a loveless end. We’ve been made heirs to heaven by faith, and that’s where our hope lies—in His unfailing love.