I Corinthians 13
As they sat down to transmit faith and biblical stories to children, the editors of the Spark Story Bible had to make some choices. They included 50 or so stories from the hundreds upon hundreds in the Old Testament, and around 100 stories that we find recorded in the New Testament. Most of their entries include people and places. Scriptures like that grab attention. And they also included a few passages which are known for their words.
To set the stage, they begin:
Paul’s friends in Corinth had lots of good ideas, but sometimes they forgot what was most important … love. Paul wanted to help them remember.
The editors then give a nice, simple, paraphrase of I Corinthians 13. (It is pleasant, but I find more meaning in some other renderings.)
When I want to be reminded of love, I turn to the English translation for this passage that was completed and published by a Christian scholar named JB Phillips:
13 1-3 If I speak with the eloquence of men and of angels, but have no love, I become no more than blaring brass or crashing cymbal. If I have the gift of foretelling the future and hold in my mind not only all human knowledge but the very secrets of God, and if I also have that absolute faith which can move mountains, but have no love, I amount to nothing at all. If I dispose of all that I possess, yes, even if I give my own body to be burned, but have no love, I achieve precisely nothing.
4 This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience—it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.
5-6 Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.
7-8a Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.
All gifts except love will be superseded one day
8b-10 For if there are prophecies they will be fulfilled and done with, if there are “tongues” the need for them will disappear, if there is knowledge it will be swallowed up in truth. For our knowledge is always incomplete and our prophecy is always incomplete, and when the complete comes, that is the end of the incomplete.
11 When I was a little child I talked and felt and thought like a little child. Now that I am a man my childish speech and feeling and thought have no further significance for me.
12 At present we are men looking at puzzling reflections in a mirror. The time will come when we shall see reality whole and face to face! At present all I know is a little fraction of the truth, but the time will come when I shall know it as fully as God now knows me!
13 In this life we have three great lasting qualities—faith, hope and love. But the greatest of them is love.
In whatever way we share these words, they worth repeating and remembering.
God, let me know Your love for me in Jesus Christ. Let me love out that love as I walk faithfully as Christ’s disciple, following the Lord of Love. Amen.