It’s the only real way of living. Without it, our work is pointless. In its absence, our very who-we-are amounts to about a hill of beans, our good deeds and all that we know equals a sum total of zero.
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. (v3)
The word itself seems to get thrown around a lot.
“I love you.”
“God loves you.”
“I love brownie sundaes with heaps of Cool Whip.”
But here in First Corinthians chapter 13, Paul writes that love is more than a word. It’s the very basis on which our lives should rest. The very motivation from which our actions should resume. More than any thought or feeling, love is an action. As the Christian rock band, dc Talk, put it long ago, “Luv is a verb.” (You can watch the music video right here.)
The thing is, we all know this, I think. We know it in our heads. But the living it, well, that comes much harder. If we’re honest, we’ll admit that giving stuff and time away is much easier than caring about who gets it. Deep down in our hearts, we know that sacrificing our time and service is often less grueling than loving the needy.
But this, the loving, the agape way, is the best way. The most excellent way.
Love never fails. (v8)
Not just for newlyweds, or new moms and dads, the love that Paul discusses here will endure throughout the ages, throughout the hardest of circumstances, throughout the most difficult relationships.
It’s difficult to imagine now, this side of eternity, but one day, when Jesus Christ returns in all of His perfect glory, in all of His perfect love, the missing pieces of this puzzle about how to love perfectly and what sincere service founded in love ought to look like will all match up.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (v12)
And I bet we’ll stand there with our mouths gaping and our foreheads wrinkled and somehow we’ll get to see all the ways God used our service done in love. I bet He’ll show us how He used those times we loved His way for His purposes. I hope so.