A Funny Thing We Do:
We take a passage like First Corinthians 13 and we romanticize it; we reserve it for weddings and greeting cards instead of struggling with it in everyday life.
Let’s start with that famous of texts: (in three versions)
1 Corinthians 13:4-8, TNIV
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8, NLT
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever…
1 Corinthians 13:4-8, KJV
(the Greek in verse 5 is in the feminine form, heautēs)
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth…
What has been happening in Corinth? What has Paul been speaking about up to this point? There are many corrective themes which he will touch on, expressive of the daily love he ultimately prescribes in Chapter 13… here’s a quick look:
Chapters 1-4, correcting division and pride
Chapter 5, beware of sexual impurity and its influence
Chapter 6, lawsuits against each other and prostitution
Chapter 7, mutual care in marriage and care of self and others in all instances of life
Chapter 8, having concern for other people’s weakness
Chapter 10, again having a concern for other people’s religious journey
Chapter 11, neglecting one another and showing favoritism in worship and at table
Chapter 12, personal gifting is for mutual benefit and service…
So what is the corrective for a life guided primarily by dividing self-interests and pride, a life that is willing to abuse and use people for gain, through litigation or sex, without a care for their well being or even their basic needs of food and healthy supportive relationships? The corrective is LOVE.
Love is changing the way we listen and speak, how we see one another, how we value one another and forgive; we fundamentally change the way we regard people. We know this word, right?
regard… v. consider or think of (someone or something)
in a specified way.
Let’s be real and be daily, and bring these corrective verses on love into our lives with all people, not just our romances. Let’s regard other people the way we should, the way God desires us to see them.
Love is patient, love is kind.
Love calls me to wait for you, when you’re slow and don’t think as fast or as well as I think you should, or as well as I think I do. Impatience will give way to kindness, a cultivated response that is tailored to your needs and not expressive of any frustration or judgment of my own.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
Love calls me to stop talking about myself all the time, defending myself and fighting my fights to make sure everyone knows how right and good I am. Love demands that I admit that I’m no better or more valuable then you. Instead I am called to listen to you, to value you and to speak about your worth and goodness.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love demands that I control my speech, bending my efforts and intentions to purifying my words, purging my thoughts and speech of anger, ridicule and demeaning slurs. I have to give up my grudges and give you a fresh start when I see you stumble, and not just once, but again and again.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
Love asks me to be happy when you are blessed, when you are right, when you win, when you succeed. And I am to be hurt when you’re hurt, concerned when you’re concerned. I’m not seeking for you to suffer or experience evil, but working actively for your good.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
This is maybe the most inspiring part of love! I may in fact see anger, violence and hatred as powerful weapons wielded in life, but love defeats them all. Love is what protects. Love is the foundation in which I can truly trust. Love is what will keep me going, not getting more stuff or better stuff, or bringing you down. Love is what will outlast all things and be the legacy of this world to which I did or did not join myself.
I know we can do this. I know God wants us to do this. Let’s not stand in the way of love for one more day for one more person. This is my Valentine’s prayer for 2015!
I found this old graphic I made for a sermon series a while back, just a couple of years or so… it seemed to fit.