June 25. I Corinthians 13
If you are looking to memorize a chapter in the Bible, you might consider this one. I can’t tell you how many times just these six words— “Love is patient. Love is kind.”—have altered my response to a friend or family member. My first thoughts when someone says something that I interpret as combative are not nice ones. Remembering what Paul says in this chapter helps me respond so much more politely. Haha! In the end, I am always glad when I am able to be patient and kind. Don’t we all want to be treated that way?
The first portion of this chapter emphasizes the supreme importance of love. No matter how amazing we might be in action or deed, if we don’t act in love we have failed. Paul is crystal clear on this point, going to great lengths to describe magnificent actions and then dismissing them if done without love. We. Must. Love. God IS love, according to 1 John 4:16. In order to honor Him and be like Him and be His ambassadors, we must love. This means that first of all, we must come to Him and soak in His love. We can’t pour out of an empty cup. God loves us. And as we grasp that truth, we are able to pour that love out on others. Even the tricky ones!
The main section of this chapter defines love for us. When you read it, were there portions when you went <<OUCH!!>>?? Hoo boy. It’s hard to get love right because it is so sacrificial and other-centered. I am always challenged by this. When I teach the course, Loving Your Husband, that I wrote, our first lesson is to apply this portion of scripture to our marriages. A whole lot changes when we do this! Of course, we need to guard against abuse and manipulation and other horrid things, but if we want to love—and we should want to—I Corinthians 13 tells us what love looks like.
The last section is rather philosophical, isn’t it? It helps us see that we are still on the earthly side of things, and life is hard here. We see through the glass “darkly” and are not yet where all will be made clear. It’s as if Paul is reassuring us that he knows it’s hard to do this love thing in a broken world. But we still do need to grow up and act decently even if it’s hard. He ends by reminding us that even in Heaven … love remains. I love this chapter!!
My verse: “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.”
My response: If even Paul—who had been caught up to heaven and seen things there—says he sees imperfectly, then I can feel okay that the picture is a bit fuzzy for me, too. I can only comprehend so much in this earthly body, in a world of confusion where evil exists and often flourishes. But this promise, Lord, is awesome. Someday there will be “perfect clarity” and there will be complete knowing!! I am so glad. And SO thankful that right now You know and love me completely.