This morning I am reading through 1 Corinthians 13. Quite appropriate with Valentines Day coming, up I suppose…but I have to say that the way our culture approaches this chapter irritates me, and here’s why:
I have seen coffee mugs with this verse on it, wall decorations saying “The greatest of these is love”, and I have heard parts of this chapter quoted at weddings. Not that there is anything wrong with any of that…
But what irritates me is the type of love that we interpret the chapter is talking about. We hear “love” and “if I have love, I am nothing” and we think to ourselves that,’yes, all we need is love!’, ‘The world is nothing without love, so I am going to love more’. And, while those are wonderful thoughts and they are true, I think we need to take a closer look at what 1 Corinthians 13 is speaking about.
These verses are talking about God’s unconditional love and everything which that embodies. It is saying that we can have the gift of prophesy, we can attempt to love perfectly, we can speak in tongues, we can give all we have, we can gain as much wisdom and knowledge as we can….but we can’t fully comprehend what God’s love truly means until we are with Him in Heaven.
We don’t understand love as much as we think we do.
When we see God clearly someday, then it will all make sense to us. But for now, we just need to press toward that perfection with faith, hope, and love as we can understand it.
The Message version puts it in a really raw way (this is starting in verse 10):
“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.”