Like most Christians, I have found Paul’s words in I Corinthians chapter 13 to be inspiring and helpful in my daily life. The definition of love in verses 4-7 has occasionally caused me to think about how I treat those people whom I claim to love.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice
in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.
Do I really behave in such a loving manner? Loving at this level may take a lifetime of practice.
As I have grown a little older, I still love this first half of I Corinthians chapter 13, and yet I find myself paying even more attention to the last few lines of what Paul wrote here.
But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for
knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in
part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child,
I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult,
I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see
face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.
I tend to imagine that Paul wrote his “love chapter” as he was looking back over a rather long life. He started out talking about how love had made his life worthwhile. Secondly, he launched into a thoughtful definition of love. And then, after he had made a typically profound Pauline pronouncement, this great apostle of the Christian faith shared his own human limitations.
“For now we see in a mirror dimly.”
I love how Paul put even his thoughts on love (and faith and hope) into perspective by admitting that this side of heaven, none of us can be certain that we have all of the answers.
As a follower of Jesus who often fails in the love, hope, and faith tests, I find some assurance being in the company of Paul, and realizing that I’m still a work in progress.
Thank you God for being patient with me as I move at my own pace through life. And thank you for loving me completely, even as my faith has a way to go before it is fully developed. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.