I Corinthians 13, Amplified Bible
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not a profound thoughtfulness and unselfish concern for other believers regardless of their circumstances or station in life, growing out of God’s love for me, then I have become only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal [just an annoying distraction].
If I write amazing blog posts and pithy, thoughtful memes, but have no thoughtfulness or unselfish concern for you, then I am just another annoying voice on social media, clamoring to be heard.
And if I have the gift of prophecy [and speak a new message from God to the people], and understand all mysteries, and [possess] all knowledge; and if I have all [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love [reaching out to others], I am nothing.
If I can use the most eloquent language to try to persuade you to follow God, explaining His Word in fresh ways, and demonstrating an immense knowledge of Scripture; and if I have faith enough to believe that God can do the impossible, but do not put actions with my words, I might as well not exist.
If I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it does me no good at all.
If I sponsor orphans in Guatemala, support missionaries across the globe, and give faithfully to my church in every way – time, talent and treasure – but do not have love, all those things are utterly pointless, completely useless.
Love endures with patience and serenity…
Rude people, arrogant people, racist people, perverted people, mean people, angry people, frustrated people, sinful people, hurtful people – all are met with patience and serenity…
…because my value does not rest in them. My value comes from being loved by Love Himself.
…love is kind and thoughtful…
Love recognizes that hurt people hurt people. It remembers that I have no idea what has shaped them into those rude, arrogant, racist, perverted, mean, angry, frustrated, sinful, hurtful people. And love answers their sin with forgiveness. With kindness. With love. Because that is how Love Himself answered 2000 years ago.
…and is not jealous or envious;
Of your new car. Your new house. Your new spouse. Your pregnancy. Your promotion. Your anything. Love rests in the promise that my God will supply all my needs. And if I don’t have it currently, I don’t need it currently. Because His promises are true and everything He does is right.
…love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant.
Even when I am right. Even when you are wrong. Even when I am declared the winner. Even when my post gets a million “likes” and half a million “loves”. No matter the score.
It is not rude; it is not self-seeking,
Love opens doors, says “Excuse me”, “Please” and “Thank you”. Love picks up trash and puts shopping carts away. Love seeks your good over my own. It allows you to cut in line, to fumble with your purse, to drive slow in the fast lane. Love looks out for you over myself. For your best interests above my own.
…it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured.
Love is not provoked. Not because the world is not provoking – but because it chooses not to be. It is not overly sensitive. It is not easily angered. It only becomes angry over the things that make God angry – but even then, it remembers that HE is the judge, the jury and the executioner. He will see that justice is done. He will not miss one wrong done against me and someone will pay. Either the perpetrator of the wrong will die for that sin, or my Savior already did on the cross. Sin will be paid for, one way or the other. So I can choose to harness my emotions, using them to propel me to good instead of evil – and I can keep my cool, even when the world runs hot.
It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail].
Love exalts in all that is good. I rejoice when justice is done, but always with an eye to what I actually deserve. And because I remember what I deserve, I offer mercy as much as I possibly can. After all, I want all the mercy you will offer me. And, no matter what, I rejoice when good wins because God is exalted.
Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].
Love bears being misunderstood. Being maligned. Being hated. Love believes the best even when it is hard to see. And love holds fast to Love itself, knowing His power is made perfect in my weakness.
Love never fails [it never fades nor ends]. But as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for the gift of special knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part [for our knowledge is fragmentary and incomplete].
Love is eternal. Words will fade. Eloquence will wane. Abilities will diminish. Even what I think I know will prove, in time, to only be partial, incomplete at best.
But when that which is complete and perfect comes, that which is incomplete and partial will pass away.
Love is coming back again. Riding a white horse, with the name Faithful and True on his thigh, leading the armies of heaven. He will conquer all evil, once and for all. I don’t have to protect myself because the King of All Kings is on my side. Or, rather, I am on His side. And Love always wins in the end.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
I have thrown tantrums, both as a child and as an adult. They look different, but the impetus is the same – a lack of love for the people Love loves. A lack of vision for how Love sees. A lack of understanding of how Love will conquer all. But I am growing. I am changing. And each day I am becoming more like Love.
For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God].
And one day, I will be complete. I will see Love face to face. What I need to understand will be understood. What I need to forget will be forgotten. He will wipe every tear from my eyes as I fall into His arms. He sees that day clearly and knows exactly when it will come. I do not – but I can make out a glimpse of it in the foggy mirror that is my life.
And now there remain: faith [abiding trust in God and His promises], hope [confident expectation of eternal salvation], love [unselfish love for others growing out of God’s love for me], these three [the choicest graces]; but the greatest of these is love.
Trusting God is great. Relying on His promises is life-giving. Looking ahead with confidence, fully believing He will do all He says He will do, that is power. But the greatest gift, the greatest grace, is Love. And because I know Love personally, I have everything I need to choose love in my actions. In my words. In my posts. With my family. My coworkers. And perfect strangers. The same power that raised Love from the dead is at work in me, giving me all that I need for life and godliness.
So, because of Him, every time, I choose to choose love.
Because the greatest of these is Love.