Our son Toby has been home over a year and a half now and yet I struggle regularly to feel affection for him. It has not come easy and probably will not happen anytime soon especially if I keep doing love my way. In 1Corinthians chapter 13 Paul is writing to the church in Corinth about how to love each other. They were apparently struggling to do that and given the tension we find in families and churches alike in our own day, it is not hard to imagine what they were going through. We share different gifts, different strengths and certainly different weaknesses as a church and as a family. Sometimes those can work in syn or as a compliment to each other or they can rub you raw. The secret ingredient to all the parts working together is the one thing Paul describes as the only lasting thing, love.
"Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1Cor. 13:13
My Holman Christian Standard Bible puts it this way "Of faith, hope, and love, love is greatest because it continues into the next age. Both faith and hope will be fulfilled in eternity, and so will not remain." and thus we can understand why it is of greatest importance to us to live out now. What we practice now with love will be lived out for all time in Heaven, but thankfully on the other side of a sinful world.
The love I am living out is reflecting a poor image of true love. I started thinking about how I am the if's in the beginning of Chapter 13.
I love to talk and offer an encouraging word.
I love to sing and lift my voice in worship.
I have a great big faith that believes big things.
I love to be generous in sharing.
But if I do all these things without love I am NOTHING.
Many of these things, if not all I have done in love and with love, BUT my love has found many limits. I pick and choose where and whom I love. Can you relate to doing things on your terms?
As I read through this chapter today I use it as a guide for confession time, a way to acknowledge my shortcomings and to seek the perfect image of true love, My Savior and My Redeemer.
Love is patient
Love is kind
Love is not selfish
Love does not keep a record of wrong
Love hopes all things
Set aside some time today to work through the passage. Make your own list. Confess. Seek Him who is perfect in love. Pray for strength to love more deeply and to go where He leads you.