If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it, but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
1 Corinthians 13: 1-8 NLT
In chapter 12 Paul was talking to the Corinthians about spiritual gifts. Chapter 13 tells them that no matter your spiritual gift it means absolutely nothing if you don’t have love. Love, in fact, is the most important aspect of the Christian faith. We do all that we do because Christ is in us and because of Christ in us we have love. Love causes us to be selfless, generous and kind. In a nut shell the first part of chapter 13 tells us that it doesn’t matter what great things you can do, if you do it for any other reason than love it is meaningless. That is a powerful truth. Verse 1 says you could literally speak all the languages of earth AND angels, but if you don’t love you would only be a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. In other words, you would be making a sound without meaning. You would sound like someone that rambles on and on without a point. Your words would be pointless. Our first prayer request when using those spiritual gifts is to pray that we do it with love.
Beginning in verse 4 Paul begins telling us how love acts. This is the part that gets tricky. We have all read verses 4-8 a million times. Most of us probably used them in our weddings. They are beautiful. When we read them they seem easy enough, don’t they? Well, duh, of course love is patient and kind, right? Certainly love isn’t jealous or boastful or proud or rude or demand its own way or irritable. This one got me. Love isn’t irritable? Do you know how irritated I become when I have asked my precious gifts from God to clean up their room for the ten thousandth time? Or how irritated I become after a long day at work and I walk in the door and the house looks like a bomb went off when I quite literally cleaned it walking out the door that morning? Better yet, when I ask those precious gifts to put the clothes away that I just folded ever so neatly and they go very neatly put them in the corner on the floor?! Irritated doesn’t begin to describe that feeling. Yet, God says that love should not be irritable. “Ummm, God how should I react?” That is the question and God is exactly who we should go to with that million dollar question. If, instead of becoming irritable, I prayed when I felt that feeling arise and took it to God I would be much more capable of loving without irritation. God didn’t give us this charge to torture us or make us feel guilty when we fail. I believe it is a reminder to include him in every aspect of our lives. It is difficult, but not impossible with Christ. Spend time in God’s word and talking to him daily so that when the temptation arises to be proud, boastful, jealous, impatient, unkind or irritable we are armed with the Holy Spirit’s power to love just like He has called to love. If every person on the planet loved like 1 Corinthians 13 imagine the world. Unfortunately, we can’t control how the world loves, but we can control (with the Holy Spirit’s guidance) how we love. It would be really easy for me to convince myself that irritable is a perfectly suitable reaction to some situations, but God says differently. I choose God. I think I will type 1 Corinthians 13 and put it on my bathroom mirror so that I will be reminded everyday how to love like Jesus does.
Gracious, Loving Father, I pray that we go to You each day and ask for Your help in every aspect of our lives. Help us to love others like You have instructed and how You Yourself love us. Thank You for covering us with Your grace even when we fail in this endeavor. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen