In yesterday’s sermon, I pondered aloud those lyrical lines about love which the Apostle Paul wrote to the troubled church in Corinth. He described (not defined) what love is like:
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends . . . And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13).
“Love is patient.” It lingers long enough to listen, and pays attention long enough to understand.
“Love is kind.” It is courteous, considerate, and gentle, not irritable or resentful or rude
“Love is not jealous.” It refuses to look at life through the green eyes of envy.
“Love is not boastful.” It carries its success with quiet dignity, and resists the temptation to upstage or embarrass others. Love does not rise up in arrogance, but kneels in service.
“Love does not insist upon its own way.” In the give and take, push and pull of life, love recalls that life is more than politics and score-keeping. Love lives for the will of God and not for its own way.
“Love does not rejoice in the wrong but in the right.” It does not amplify another person’s sins. Love protects and shelters those who stumble, fall, and fail.
“Love always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.” Love refuse to give up; it is resilient, even tough. Love resists the temptation to doubt everything positive which it hears; and continues to believe in an open future and in the power of God. Love is confident that, if they will, people can grow, change, and mature.
Like many other interpreters, I think 1 Corinthians 13 is, at its heart, a description of Jesus and his love, which means these words are a powerful and always-needed reminder of the good news:
Jesus loves you with an everlasting, unbreakable, strong, and tender love. With you, Jesus is patient and kind. He does not love you for what you can give him or do for him: he is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. Jesus is not unpredictable and unreliable; he wants what is best for you. He rejoices when things go well for you and his heart is broken when you are in pain. Jesus bears along with you all the burdens of your life. He believes in you; he has great hopes and dreams for you. He helps you to face and endure whatever life brings to you. His love for you never ends. Because of Jesus, in Jesus, with Jesus, and through Jesus, faith hope and love abide, these three, and the greatest of these is love.