Three things will last forever - faith, hope, and love - and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
I don’t think that there will be anyone reading this who is not familiar with 1st Corinthians 13, the great song of love in the New Testament. However, I wonder how many of you remember the first time you read it. I do.
When I first stumbled upon 1st Corinthians 13, I didn’t have the same respect for The Bible that I have today because it wasn’t long since I had handled The Bible for the first time. I hadn’t yet ventured along the road of Bible study and I didn’t realise it was Holy Spirit inspired writing. I thought it was merely a man writing down his own ideas.
On that memorable occasion, I began to read the now familiar words,
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonour 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.
Love never fails.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
“Well, this just can’t be right”, I thought to myself. I wasn’t trying to be smart. I wasn’t in any way being judgemental. I truly thought that the person who wrote this had got it all wrong. I reasoned that I loved my family, but I had to admit that I wasn’t always patient with them. Nor was I always kind. And maybe I did get a wee but angry from time to time... but that didn’t mean I didn’t love them!!! I mean, what family didn’t annoy each and express irritation to each other? That was just life and love.
It was then that something happened that I have never forgotten. A gentle voice spoke to me in my mind and said, ‘but this is MY love I’m talking about’. With those words came revelation. Revelation of a love so great, so patient, so kind and long-suffering. Charles Spurgeon describes it well when he says,
For breadth, the love of Jesus is immensity
For length it is eternity
For depth it is immeasurability
And for its height infinity.
God’s love was way above anything I had ever imagined. It made human love look small in comparison. I wanted to find a new name for God’s love; a name that was as big as the reality I had seen.
Over time, I began to realise that, although Corinthians 13 speaks of God’s love, this is the standard that He is asking us apply to our lives. This is one of the most difficult things he asks us to do and in many cases, it cuts right across the grain of what we want to do. But, if it is God who is asking, it is God who also gives the power.
This week, take time to read this chapter of The Bible again, and let God renew in your heart the vision of His love.
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