1 Corinthians 13
In the Britten/Lyle song so beautifully rendered by Tina turner, we hear the lines
What’s love got to do, got to do with it
What’s love but a second hand emotion
What’s love got to do, got to do with it
Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken.
How sad, to think that love is just a second hand emotion, or, who needs a heart when a heart can be broken. Many years ago when my kids were very young, we were traveling back to London from our stay with my parents in Wales, it is about a 4-hour drive. Partly to kill some time and partly because I wanted to teach my kids something about God and his character, I suggested to my daughter that she open the bible that was on the back seat between her and her brother, and I asked her to read 1 Corinthians 13, as she was reading I would stop her at various places and ask them both if they understood the words, and asked them to tell me their interpretation of those words, it was a very good exercise and I hope helped them (and me) to understand God a little better.
In verse 4 we read Love suffers long and is kind, so we stopped there and began a discussion of what that means, love suffers long, what does that mean I asked? I cannot now remember much of what they said, but we had a meaningful dialogue about long-suffering and love.
Long suffering and love
An analogy of it might be someone who had to endure something unpleasant for a long period, but who was patient throughout, or a person who had to put up with a long illness but who did so cheerfully, or maybe the poor, tired old family pet who had to forgo the mauling of young kids pulling his hair or ears, but did so patiently out of love.
Then we get onto kind, the definition of kind might be, warm, generous or sympathetic, or having or showing a friendly, generous, sympathetic, or warmhearted nature. At this point my kids were listening intently and making observations of their own, and I also had to apologize for my not always being long-suffering and kind towards them as I struggled to bring them up on my own, sometimes love involves discipline !
Love does not envy
The dictionary defines envy thus:
a feeling of discontent and ill will, because of another’s advantages, possessions, etc.; resentful dislike of another who has something that one desires. I asked my kids to give examples of when they envied someone, and it mainly came down to possessions, wanting what others had 🙂 but envy is much more insidious than that, our envy of others devours us most of all, almost like bitterness, both consume the soul. Love looks through a telescope; envy, through a microscope.
Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.
Not unless you are talking about self-love, IE, a narcissist, these people are easily seen for what they are, precisely because they want to be seen. Robert Morley once said: “To fall in love with yourself, is the first secret to happiness”
What a bunch of baloney, that really is narcissistic, in life we find that the people most happy, most secure, most satisfied, are those who look out for the interests of others, rather than self, those who give, and those who look out, rather than introvert navel-gazing all the time, Meryl Streep, once said, “Service is the only thing that’s important about love. Everybody is worried about ‘losing yourself’ – all this narcissism. Duty. We can’t stand that idea now either… But duty might be a suit of armor you put on to fight for your love. Amen to that Ms Streep.
Do you remember that stupid song that Janet Jackson did, What have you done for me lately? (the title says it all) one of the lines is “I never ask for more than I deserve You know it is the truth” What on earth does she think she deserves? What about Toby Kieth’s song, “I wanna talk about me”
I want to talk about me
Want to talk about I
Want to talk about number one
Oh my me my
What I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see
I like talking about you, you, you, you usually, but occasionally
I want to talk about me
I want to talk about me.
So, I think we get the picture, we are all self centered, we came out of the womb that way, but I think that the happiest, most fulfilled people are those with a healthy regard for the interests of others.
Tucker Max once said, “No one has probably helped me more with my narcissism than my dog” 🙂
Love does not behave rudely, does not seek it is own
Is not easily provoked and thinks no evil. Wow, that is a hard one to live up to, my kids, when prompted; were thinking back to the times that they were rude to each other, or seeking their own will or plan. We all are self-seeking to some degree but it is how we go about achieving our want, needs, desires, that should separate us from brute ignorance and evil self-seeking thoughts, after all, what gives us the right to lord it over another, or disrespect them if we disagree with what they have to say (I know I am guilty of the same) just like Paul the Apostle said, let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
I remember a good friend of mine who was an acting student at the time, exampling this very rude and arrogant behavior whilst standing in a line for something, I was inline when he pushed in front of me in the line exclaiming in his best actors voice “out of my way, because I’m very important; and jolly humble too I might add”
Does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth
The dictionary defines iniquity as lack of justice or righteousness; wickedness; injustice, or gross injustice and wickedness, and we should not rejoice in that, if we are to rejoice, let’s rejoice in the truth, I told my kids on that journey home from Wales.
I will not dwell on iniquity and injustice here because I find that I can easily get entwined and angered by the political scene, which in my opinion has never been more filthy and corrupt as it is now, and I would do best to leave that in Gods hands, as it says in 2 Peter 2 They will not go unpunished. Rather, we should spend our time rejoicing in the truth, to exult in righteousness and justice, I love the line in U2’s song Rejoice, “I can’t change the world, but I can change the world in me, if I rejoice” how true, we can change our thoughts from negative and hurtful to positive and loving and improve our whole outlook if we dwell on love.
Another guy who greatly rejoiced was an Ethiopian eunuch who being baptized saw Phillip disappear before his very eyes, just after Phillip had baptized him, Can you imagine such a thing? one minute you are an unforgiven, unredeemed, bound for hell heathen, and the next you are a forgiven, saved and sanctified sojourner on your way to heaven, oh, and just for a little confirmation the guy who just baptized you vanishes, one might be forgiven for thinking that you had just been with and angel or something.
So, how can we cancel out the negative, ugly, nasty, unjust, corrupt contamination of iniquity and rejoice in the truth? Paul tells us in
Philippians 4v8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Son, what does “bears all things” mean? daughter what does “believes all things” mean? what about hoping and enduring? To bear something is to deal with a sad or difficult situation in a brave and determined way. Should we believe all things? of course not, there are people and beings that will, and do lie to you, so how do we know son, whom to trust? That is where our closeness to God comes in, if we talk to Him and ask Him to reveal truth to us, we can rest assured that He will guide and protect us, daddy doesn’t know all things kids, but Daddy in Heaven does.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 tells us
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Hope is a good thing, right? We all have hopes and dreams, life without hope would be …..hopeless. To have hope we must have faith too, faith to believe that our hopes will come true someday. I really like how the NIV puts Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. We can be sure of what we hope for and we can be certain of things that we do not yet see, because one day we will see what God who cannot lie has promised, a new heaven and a new earth, so we endure until the end.
The dictionary describes enduring as: to support adverse forces or influence of any kind; suffer without yielding; suffer patiently, suffering patiently whilst we live on this earth awaiting the arrival of our new home.
Piece de resistance
Verse 8 of 1 Corinthians 13 is the masterpiece, the magnum opus, the masterwork, or showpiece, the gem or the jewel.
Love NEVER fails, But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. But love, will always be, how could it not be? after all God IS love, He cannot fail or grow weary, or turn His back on us, He is utterly reliable, totally steadfast, immeasurably faithful, completely committed to His creation. Love never fails, it is like light overcoming darkness. Think of sealed box that is full of darkness, it is utterly black in there, yet just one tiny pin prick through that box has completely killed that darkness, if you were in that box before the tiny hole was put in it, you would have been totally blind, but with that tiny hole the darkness no longer exists, it has been shattered by the light. God is light, in Him there is no darkness, can the darkness somehow leak out of that box? of course not, and that is Just like our God, he cannot be overcome by darkness, so we can rest assured that Love NEVER fails.
What is love?
Ask that question in almost any classroom or work place today and you will undoubtedly get answers like, attraction, emotion, feeling, passion, sex, etc, but that is not true love, true love is all the things we have just spoken about and more. There is a song by Don Francisco that is titled Love is not a feeling it’s an act of your will, that is it right there, we choose to love and we try to be patient, and kind, we try not to envy or be puffed up, we try not to be rude or provoked or to provoke, we try to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things for the sake of love, it is absolutely an act of our will and not some whimsical emotion or feeling that is here today and gone tomorrow.
Jesus said: Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
And that my friends is love.
Till next time.