“13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” 1st Corinthians 13
Usually used at weddings, chapter thirteen of First Corinthians unpacks thoughts about love. The word “love” is used over seven-hundred times in the Bible. But this piece of scripture was not written with weddings in mind, even though love is a relevant topic at a wedding.
But what about the rest of us who are not pledging our vows to someone else at a wedding? Does this scripture have any meaning? What if you aren’t married? Does it still apply? Can it have meaning? Yes, it does and it can.
I like to think of this chapter as describing Jesus. Love is, after all, as Christians what we believe God has shown us first. Now there are a few different words for “love” in the Bible. They help us understand that love is not one-faced. Love is described as love between friends (philos), intimate love between two people (eros), and the sacrificial love of God (agape).
This agape love is the greatest we have received. The love between friends and others doesn’t always last forever, but the love we have received from God in Jesus does. It is eternal, unwavering and in its stubborn nature meant to teach us that it will indeed last forever. Even when we struggle with love for ourselves, each other or God, God does not struggle to love us and hold us forever.
Love doesn’t always last between people, but that is no reason to give up on love. For whether we find joy and lasting fulfillment in our human relationships, we never have to worry about that lack of love coming from God toward us. And in that patient, sacrificing love we can even learn how to love and forgive each other more.
“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. 8 Love never ends.”
1st Corinthians 13
Love, Pastor Dave Sorenson