1 Corinthians 13 – Love and Failure to Love

1st Corinthians 13 Bible with Green and Blacks Organic 70 Percent Cacao Dark Chocolate

Today’s Chocolate: Green & Black’s Organic 70% Cacao Dark Chocolate

Today’s Passage: 1 Corinthians 13

1 Corinthians 13, Paul’s description of love, is one of the best-known passages in the Bible. I first got wise to it in early high school. and since then it’s been a regular point of visitation in my Bible reading. For me, it’s surprisingly easy to forget the importance of love in my day-to-day life, but entirely too often I turn on that cruise control and coast through my days. But love isn’t a switch you can flip.

Some would call this Paul’s definition of love, and I may be getting pedantic here, but I’d say it’s better than a definition of love: it’s a picture. You see each of those statements, “Love is patient, love is kind” (4), and so on? Those aren’t statements of being, those are actual verbs. In the original Greek: “η αγαπη μακροθυμει,” love suffers long, “χρηστευεται η αγαπη,” love acts kindly. When faced with a choice between pursuing its own interests to others’ detriment versus embracing suffering in order to benefit others, love goes with the latter choice every time. It’s something we do. It rolls up its sleeves and gets to work, even when the work is hard.

And you might expect Paul’s picture of love to encourage me to step it up, to pursue love with renewed vigor. But today, first and foremost it reminds me how often I’m just a useless, noisy, clanging cymbal. I pursue my own stuff, keep to myself, and turn a blind eye to those suffering just down the block. Jackson brags and is arrogant, Jackson acts unbecomingly, Jackson seeks his own. Don’t get me wrong, fam; I’m not utterly devoid of love. But all too often, negate the passage, and that’s me.

No, this passage doesn’t remind me to pick myself up by my bootstraps and make that extra effort to love. It reminds me of just how much we need Jesus Christ. Because you want to see the picture come alive? Look at the life of Jesus Christ. Look at his death on the cross. If we have failed to love (and you’d better believe we have), Jesus Christ has endured crucifixion and carried the penalty for all our failures. He’s walked the road to Golgotha with a hundred pounds of wood, and he’s died in order to bring us life. “Love endures all things?” (7). Jesus Christ endured the penalty for every sin each of us has ever committed, every unloving deed, every instance of our willingness to do our own thing at everyone else’s expense. When we loved only ourselves–if that–Jesus Christ loved all of us.

Paul tells us: “Love never fails” (8). And even where we’ve failed, we can know that God still loves us, holding out a nail-scarred hand to pull us back up. Happy Good Friday, everyone.

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