1 Corinthians 13 NLT
“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; 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 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. 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.”
We’re going to start a series on this chapter of 1 Corinthians. Valentine’s Day is coming soon, so we’ll look at how God defines love. Today, I want to look at the ideas in all the verses except for verses 4 through 7. Those verses specifically describe the qualities of love, but the rest of the chapter talks about the importance of love. Tomorrow we’ll start looking at those often-quoted middle verses that give us a standard to see how we’re doing in the “love department”.
I can’t think of anyone who would say love is not very important; however, in our culture I’m not sure people would consider it as the most important thing. It would definitely be up there if you could rank important things. But look at the comparisons this scripture gives us to emphasize how important it is.
Just think about how famous you would be if you could literally speak every language known on earth. You’d certainly be paid big bucks for your translation ability, and likely be consulted by the UN during any global negotiations. What if you were the smartest person on the earth – so smart that you actually knew what God was doing? (Bill Gates – move on over!) What if you could foretell the future (prophecy) accurately? I mean, if you knew God’s secret plans, you’d know the future for sure. What if your faith in what you were doing was so great, it actually could make huge events happen – like moving mountains? If you could do any of those things, you would be one of the most sought-after persons in the world. We admire intelligence and the ability to get things done in our culture.
But to love extremely well? You might be famous and admired, but you wouldn’t have much influence on global affairs. I think perhaps Mother Theresa would be an example of someone who loved extremely well. She was definitely admired and anyone who can read or follow media reports would know about her, but I don’t think many people would want to follow in her footsteps or encourage others to do so. Sacrificial love is admired, but in our culture, we really don’t want to go there. BUT, that’s where God asks us to go.
God tells us that we could be the most linguistically fluent person ever, the smartest person ever, or the most powerful person ever, but that would mean nothing if we weren’t a loving person. Right now, we live on earth as humans, and we have limited intelligence and power. But there is a God who is all-knowing and all-powerful, and someday in eternity, we will see things from His perspective. When we do, we’ll understand just how important love is.
And God proved it to us already. John 3: 16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life”. The one being in this entire universe and in universes beyond ours, who has all knowledge and power, loved us so much He became a human with all its limitations, and died for us so we could have a loving relationship with Him. Is that not important? Really important?
Our devotions today focuses on the foundation of the Christian faith, not so much on how to apply it to our lives. Application will come, but I think it’s really important for us to stop and realize how important love is, and how important it is to our Heavenly Father. Because that is what will give us the inspiration to love others well when it’s personally difficult to do so.
“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”
Our song for today is Without Love by Stacie Orrico