Love is…

When we hear 1 Corinthians 13 read at weddings, we’ve been conditioned to associate its wisdom exclusively to romantic love. However, to do so is to miss the point! This chapter speaks of a love that should permeate every aspect of our community.

The church in Corinth was a community struggling with division, spiritual pride, and a misunderstanding of spiritual gifts. Paul’s well know section on love is meant to be the “more excellent way.” This is not love as the world knows it, but agape love, a selfless, sacrificial love that considers others more important than themselves.

Agape love should weave through every interaction within the body of Christ. It is patient and kind; it does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. This love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Paul’s description challenges us to reflect on our interactions within our faith communities. Do we exhibit patience and kindness, or are we quick to judge and criticize? Do we unify or do we divide? The love described in 1 Corinthians 13 is a love that encourages, bears with one another, and that strives to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Paul also stresses the purpose of spiritual gifts compared to the enduring nature of love. The gifts are for the building up of the body, distributed through the Holy Spirit! When done with love, they are powerful beyond human capability, yet without love, they become useless, worthless noise, that edifies nobody.

In the end, 1 Corinthians 13 is a call to the body of Christ to examine ourselves. Only God knows the true motives of our heart. He knows when we are motivated by love or by a desire for recognition, power, or control. Do not give in to the loveless culture that is dividing the church more and more, but rather let us commit ourselves to being instruments of peace for the sake of the gospel!

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