Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The greatest of these is love

1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.  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 put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love

These were the words the minister spoke at my wedding almost 30 years ago.  I was 25 years old.  I didn't know anything about love.  I thought love was about how I felt.  I thought I showed love by what I did for those I loved.  I thought kisses showed love.  I thought hugs showed love.  I didn't really know anything about love.  I still find I fall into the trap of doing love instead of being love.    Love is the greatest, but love is the trickiest.  

Advertising messes up our ideas about love.  Hollywood distorts what love is supposed to look like.  Everything out there makes it look like love is a destination.  The world makes it look like love is something we can get to or attain.  We forget, love is something we already have within ourselves.  And we really forget that the more love we give away, the more love we have to give.

I remember being in college and thinking about love.  I took many philosophy classes in college.  Philosophy classes can have the side-effect of causing one to think too much.  I always struggled with the idea of love.  I was afraid I was a person incapable of loving someone.  I would imagine my life without my parents or my brothers or my boyfriend and I would feel, ...nothing.  I didn't feel fear or dread or loss or anything.  Of course, this was an academic exercise, as all these people were alive and well and in my life.  But, I thought I should be able to feel something.  something.  This fear, of not being capable of love, had haunted me for much of my life.

I know I am capable of loving and being loved.  I know, clearly, I'm not the type of person that dwells heavily in feelings.  I'm the kind of person who dwells in the concrete and the "here and now."  You can be pretty sure the person writing the sentiments inside the hallmark cards is not an ISTJ, like me.  I believe my duty and commitment to the people I love are evidence of my love.

When I read the 1 Corinthians 13 verses I find more comfort in them than I did on my wedding day.  Today I am more accepting of the personality God gave me.  When I read these words about love I see myself in them.  I see the way I demonstrate love in them.  When I give my word, I mean it.  I am not the clanging gong.  When I take on an obligation, I do what it takes to fulfill my duty.  I will be constant in my commitment.  When I was young, the words in these verses seemed impossible, out of reach.  Now I know these words describe the only motivation that gives worth to anything we do on this Earth.  If we act out of any motivation but love, there is no value.

I must have faith in God and in my salvation, I must have hope all is in God's hands and he will bring me home to him, and I must have love for God and my fellow humans walking this dull sod.  This is the greatest of the three.  I must love.  


  1. seeing yourself in those words is a beautiful thing and it says a lot about what a perfect of should and will be...

  2. You are loved in the blogosphere!

  3. Ha!  I loved the ISTJ reference.  Funny.  :)

  4. That was a nice Valentine's Day post - I've always loved that scripture.

  5. I love the love post. Such true words spoken and I totally relate to the getting married, having these same versus read at our service and truly not understanding what they even meant. I was so young and didn't really know what love was all about either. It's been a long journey and I'm finally getting it, of course I'm 50 and I guess it's about time :)


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