February 16 I Sunday
“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.” —1 Corinthians 13:1
First Corinthians 13 is considered the classic chapter on love and contains one of the most beautiful and penetrating descriptions of love in all of literature. From the opening verse of this devotion, Paul is talking about spiritual gifts and how they are to be exercised in love.
Love is everything, because without it, everything is nothing. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul unites loving activities with loving attitudes and aspirations that work together in giving us the deeply fulfilling and fruitful life God intends for us. Without love, our spiritual giftings and ministries are empty. The Holy Spirit enables our spiritual giftings to be exercised with love, or
else, it would be as Paul says, “I am nothing, I do nothing, I gain nothing.”
Paul then speaks about loving attitudes and very soulfully writes, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour 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” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). This paints a beautiful portrayal of Jesus Christ and God’s ambition for us.
Our aspiration is to love in whatever we do. Paul tells us that prophesies will cease, tongues will be stilled and knowledge will pass away, but “love never fails”
(1 Corinthians 13:8). Love has no shelf life and endures forever. Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another.” It is not always easy to love everyone, but Jesus explains how it works: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). This means our first capacity for love is to know that we ourselves are loved. We do not have to be lovable, because love does not originate in the attraction of the loved but it originates in the love nature of the lover.
God is love and draws us into a relationship with Him, where there is no need for fear or shame. God knows us and loves us through and through. If we tend to forget this, we will inevitably stunt our spiritual growth, because God’s love for us is what gives us the joy, freedom and capacity to love others. The kind of love Jesus speaks of is not something we work long and hard to build in ourselves, but a supernatural love. This love is derived from His life within us and is the infinite reservoir we are to draw from to love one another.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for being the greatest example of love. I ask that You overflow my heart with Your love and make me a conduit of Your love in my interactions with others. Amen!