Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Many have memorized this classic passage of 1 Corinthians 13, describing love as kind, not jealous, not arrogant. However, as I have seen, the “love verse” has become cliché, and many may tune it out feeling “forced” to listen to it once again.
It would seem that quite a few, myself included, have grown tired of this passage because we tend to skip the first part of chapter 13 and the latter third. When reading these parts of God’s word, it is imperative to examine the full text which Paul has written. He mentions that we can have the gift of tongues, prophecy, knowledge, and faith to move mountains, Yet, all these gifts will pass with time, it is only love that will last through the ages. If we do not have love, these gifts are a waste. It is this very reason that Paul even gives these definitions of love. They provide us with an understanding as to how we should act while we are using these specific spiritual gifts.
Yet, in verse 11 Paul gives the exhortation to put away childish things. This is often a passage that also gains some attention, as parents or those in parental roles will use this passage to encourage (or demand) maturity. However, even if we are sick or our parents “using this verse against us” it is still an equally important command given to us. We cannot fully love and grow in spiritual gifts and maturity if we are unwilling to put away childish things.
Of course the ultimate example of this incredible love and spiritual maturity is Jesus Christ. He was in the temple memorizing scriptures and discussing the law with the rabbis at only the age of twelve. He had put away childish things, was growing in the Word, and was showing love to others. It is because of Christ, and his model for us, that we even have the capacity to love. I John 4:19 (also a popular love verse) states, “We love because he first loved us.” And it is this redeeming love that should find so irresistible; we have no other choice than to show this love to others.
So, this Valentine’s Day, as you see facebook posts, cards, memes, and tweets blasting 1 Corinthians 13 or 1 John, I encourage you, do not turn your eye. Put away childish things, seek maturity in the Lord, study these passages, and seek an understanding as to how the love of Christ, true love modeled for us, is the source and strength of all spiritual gifts.
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