“Meanwhile these three remain: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.”
I have faith. I have hope. I have love.
1 Corinthians 13 is often described as the chapter of love in the Bible; the first parts of it are regularly read at weddings.
At the time of writing his letters, Paul noticed that the Corinthians were completely self-absorbed. They often competed with each other, trying to determine who was the most righteous, the most spiritual. They weighed each other up by their own standards, and not by God’s.
Paul, however, explains that love should be at the center of everything we do. Being a Christian is not about competition, but rather about community.
In the first three verses of chapter 13, Paul writes that if we don’t have love, then we have nothing. We may think we are knowledgeable, and kind, and generous, but if we don’t have love, then everything is useless and pointless.
“1I may be able to speak the languages of human beings and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell. 2I may have the gift of inspired preaching; I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains — but if I have no love, I am nothing. 3I may give away everything I have, and even give up my body to be burnt — but if I have no love, this does me no good.”
The next seven verses are Paul’s definition of what this love is that we need to have. He lists exactly what love is and isn’t, and how Christians should live their lives.
“4Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; 5love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; 6love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. 7Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.
“8Love is eternal. There are inspired messages, but they are temporary; there are gifts of speaking in strange tongues, but they will cease; there is knowledge, but it will pass. 9For our gifts of knowledge and of inspired messages are only partial; 10but when what is perfect comes, then what is partial will disappear.”
Love is also a verb; it’s an action. You need to show love, give love, accept and be love. 1 Corinthians 13 demonstrates the character of God that we need to harness in our own lives. We need to be as God wants us to be. Obeying the first and second commandments. The commandments of loving God and our neighbour.