Today’s Reading: 1 Corinthians 13
Love is a binding agent – (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
After 22 years of marriage, I had decided to start cooking. It’s not that I was completely incapable before, but I never really wanted to spend my time on meal planning/preparation. It was also common for me to substitute for ingredients that I didn’t have on hand, so very few things I fixed ever tasted like they were supposed to. (And we usually spent our dinnertime trying to figure out what I’d messed up and/or why it didn’t work). Turkey sandwiches, salads and cereal had to be my go-to meals because you can’t really mess those things up!
One of the things I’ve learned on my cooking journey is the need for a binding agent. Have you ever forgotten the eggs in a batch of cookies? They turn into a runny mess. You must have something to hold all the ingredients together. While you can’t really taste the binder, the recipe simply doesn’t work without it.
Take a look at the first three verses of 1 Corinthians 13, do you notice that before he “defines” love Paul describes it as a binding agent? Spiritual gifts and good works are useless without love. It holds everything together, nothing works without it.
Love is selfless – (1 Corinthians 13:4-6)
True love is completely selfless. It is directed at others, not ourselves, all the time. This is hard to wrap our brains around because true love is so rare in our society. Because of sin, humans are inherently selfish beings. In fact, it is impossible for us to be completely selfless and truly love others without God’s help to put others ahead of ourselves.
Love is 100% effective – (1 Corinthians 13:7-8)
In my job, I regularly provide my staff feedback on their written and verbal communication because effective communications are most often how we gain buy-in from our leaders and business partners. What we say has to be said/written in a way our audience can easily understand and it has to be completely accurate. One of my guiding principles is to avoid using the words ever, never, any and always. Why? Because very few things in business are 100%, there is almost always an exception to the rule. (Do you remember I’ve spent a lot of my professional career in Audit?).
Do you notice how Paul describes love in verses 7 and 8? The New International Version translates it as always, always, always, always and never. When it comes to genuine love, my guiding principle isn’t correct. One-hundred percent of the time, true love protects, trust, hopes and perseveres. It never fails.
Love is the greatest of all human qualities – (1 Corinthians 13:13)
In verse 13, Paul says three things will endure – faith, hope, and love. He then says love is the greatest of the three. Why? Back to the concept of a binding agent, without love nothing else holds together. My Life Application Study Bible describes it this way – Faith is the foundation and content of God’s message; hope is the attitude and focus; love is the action.
Think about this – you can know everything there is to know about what it takes to run a marathon. You can have all the right equipment, have followed a training plan perfectly, and have perfect conditions (which look like a completely flat course, cool temperatures and no wind in my mind). BUT, if you don’t take action and actually show up and run the race, it is all for nothing. The same is true with love. We can know everything there is to know about God’s word and have perfect conditions to follow it, but until we put it into action and start loving others, it is all for nothing.
Love is a game changer. 1 John tells us God is love. Not God has love or God loves, but God IS love. It is his very nature. People should be able to tell we are Christfollowers because they see us genuinely loving others.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love… Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us (1 John 4:7, 11-12).