Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Observation: The Christians in Corinth are believed to have been endowed with significant gifts of the Spirit, particularly some of the more supernatural gifts – miracles, healing, tongues, prophesy, and so on. The apostle Paul is among the most gifted of all. That said, Paul makes an important point. All the cool God stuff matters little if it is not accompanied by… sacrificial love (agape).
Application: As I think about the institutional church and her struggles in changing times, this passage reminds me of perhaps the most important tool at our disposal. Love. People may not be very interested in organized religion. But everyone has a need for sacrificial love. And, by the grace of God, everyone has the capacity to love.
As I reflect on the passage I’m aware that sometimes the most difficult people to love are those closest to me. The people who live under my roof. There’s no question we love one another, and yet we often drive each other crazy. We know how to push each other’s buttons. We bring years and years of relational baggage into our interactions. It’s not pretty. Speaking for myself, I want to do better. But it’s hard sometimes, know what I mean? Here’s a question for all of us:
Where is the Lord inviting you to love someone today?
Prayer: Gracious God, love is an incredibly powerful thing. Give us grace to love others as you first loved us. Amen.