(1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:13) Pastor Carol Weist
Love is not speaking in tongues. Love is not speaking any particular language. Love is how you use that language.
Love is not knowing all the mysteries of God and God’s creation. Love shows in how you use what you do know which may not be much. Do you use what you know to put others down or build them up?
Love is not doing mighty acts, moving mountains of dirt and rock. Helping others move mountains of problems can be love.
Giving is not automatically love. It is possible to give without genuine respect for others. It is possible to give money or volunteer time and see who is being helped as worthless, even though all people have worth in God’s eyes.
Would it be considered loving for parents to give away all they have including what is needed to feed and clothe and otherwise provide for their children? No! Loving parents try to give their children at least what they need with hopefully at least a few things to enjoy. It is not loving to give children everything they want. Truly giving out of love calls for prayer and discernment. When we give for personal gain or prestige, we gain nothing in God’s eyes.
What does it mean to have love? What are the signs of love, godly love,
as opposed to a couple falling romantically in love?
Love is patient. Should that couple marry and establish a household, true love takes patience. A newborn arrives. Parents, family, friends and those in the vicinity generally overflow with love. The true ongoing love it takes to raise that child to adulthood will take patience, kindness, not being envious of others who do not face the same challenges, but may very well face other challenges, a lot of trying not to be irritable and not resenting not having the freedoms to do certain things until a dear child who does not always act dearly grows up.
Good parents do not rejoice at wrongdoing. They take wrongdoing seriously. They do rejoice in the truth even though it takes patience to get to the truth. Love bears with all sorts of things. Love believes that there is hope for that child even when learning self-discipline is a challenge for that child. Love endures. It keeps on keeping on.
We may become discouraged. The existence of love does not depend on us. Even in our most discouraging moments, God’s love is there to abide in. Even when we do not feel loving towards that child or that other person, our love is measured not in how we feel, but whether we are pursuing being patient and kind even when others are impatient and unkind, or whether we are acknowledging any struggles we may be having with resentment and envy and the like.
According to 1 Corinthians 13:13 faith, hope, and love abide now, and of these love is the greatest. Love is the still more excellent way promised in 1 Corinthians 12:31. We do not have to feel the greatest for God’s love to be the greatest. Right after telling us that godly love is the greatest, Paul goes on to say in 1 Corinthians 14:1 to pursue love. Pursuit means doing. Pursuit means activity.
We may think of being patient as not doing anything. Being patient is doing. Being patient takes the faith to keep trying to teach and remind a child, until that child finally catches on. Being patient can mean taking a pause from one activity and doing another, in faith, prayerfully trusting the Holy Spirit is working in that situation while hoping in God’s merciful promises. The pursuit of love means actively practicing patience and kindness and other godly virtues.
To abide in the greatest is not being enthralled by the performance or activities of an athlete or a team or a performer or actor at the expense of loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves. To abide in the greatest is to claim the promise that we do dwell here by God’s love and to pursue the hope and promise there is in that love. Abiding is dwelling. Our dwellings on this earth may be humble. That is no hindrance to God’s love.
What we or other people say or think out of envy or resentment or malice or just plain old tired irritability – that is not a hindrance to God’s love. Should you get caught up in such, pursue God’s love and leave self regret behind. If you catch yourself regretting regretting again and again, abide in the greatest, abide in God’s love.
Not sure your language or motives have been genuinely loving enough? Leave the judging of yourself to God, In 1 Corinthians 4:3 Paul leaves the judging of himself to God. That does not negate Romans 12:3 where Paul calls upon us to think with sober judgment lest we think of ourselves more highly than we ought. Sober judgment does not mean endless self-evaluation
or evaluation by others at the expense of actively abiding in God’s love, that is, actively working and living dwelling in God’s love.
According to Galatians 5:6 what counts in God’s eyes is faith working through love even if you do not have absolutely everything figured out or what you thought you had figured out has gone awry.
To abide in the greatest is to abide in God’s love. and that is abiding in the greatest knowing that even if you do not get everything perfectly right, you can boldly come to Jesus who will get you back on the right track.
Thanks be to God.