Day 17

Love, the Superior Way

from the reading plan

1 Corinthians 13:1-13, Psalm 145:8-10, Psalm 145:14-19, John 15:9-17

First Corinthians 13 provides the all-time greatest expression of what love is supposed to look like.

The scintillating beauty of this ode to love has captivated imaginations for millennia. However, we must maintain a Christ-centric understanding of the passage. A “me-centric” focus can lead to despair as we recognize that we don’t measure up. Speaking only for myself, I lose my patience in big ways, often in response to small things. I am the Michael Jordan of envying the possessions and talents of others. I have behaved and spoken rudely, privately and publicly, countless times. There are few things I seek with more ambition than the idol of self. If you wrong me, I will likely keep a record of it—maybe not on purpose, but it’ll definitely stick with me. There are times when I seem unable to bear, believe, hope, or endure anything. If I’m expected to meet the standards of love exposited in 1 Corinthians, then I am a failure. At least when I read it through the lens of my own capacities and strengths.

On the other hand, when Jesus is the focus, we can read it as a reflection of who God is and what it might be like to live as a body of believers sharing the kind of love with which only God could possibly equip us. When I remember that the Bible is an expression of the quality and scope of God’s “faithful love” (Psalm 145:8), all of my personal misgivings fall away and leave me standing empty-handed, humbled but willing to receive whatever the Lord has for me. “Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love—but the greatest of these is love” (1Corinthians 13:13).

All of the things that remain in my emotional and spiritual life are provided to me by the hands of God. Faith is a gift, not something I’ve earned; hope is the natural effluence generated by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And, of course, love is that ineffable reality that comprehends the infinite facets of God’s heart—that most sought after treasure that we are woefully incapable of authentically possessing or replicating apart from the presence of God.

I will re-read 1 Corinthians 13 today and, rather than despair over my personal inadequacy, I will beam with joy and peace knowing that the very apotheosis of love has been revealed and offered to me in the person of Jesus Christ.

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