I wish I could speak another language fluently. We had a woman in our church who could speak five languages and I was so impressed by that. But even if I could walk around an Olympic stadium and have conversations with every athlete in their first language, the words coming from my mouth would be a loud, raucous noise if I didn’t have love in my heart.
There have been a few moments in my life when the Lord gave me a word for someone else, but I have often wondered what it would be like to have the gift of prophecy. To be able to shed light on someone’s situation or give them a promise to hold onto through difficulties and struggles – this would be great! If I was so wise that I could discern God’s will, His plan for me and for others, and if I had a faith that was so strong that I could move mountains, oh what an incredible life that would be! Yet, if I didn’t have the love to care about others or to desire God’s best plan for the world, it would all be nothing.
If I could conjure up enough human love to sell everything I have and give it to the poor, and if I would sacrifice my physical strength and health for others – wow, would I have something to boast about. But if I didn’t have the love of God pouring into my heart and out through my actions to others, it would all be for nothing!
Our pastor has been preaching through 1 Corinthians chapter 13 this summer. Week after week, Rev. Lloyd Brock has focused on a small portion of the “love chapter” and brought new understanding to each verse. He has challenged us to make a commitment to love others the way God intended for love to look. This is what I mean.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)
This is the kind of love I want. This is the kind of crazy love I want my life to look like. But I cannot live like this. Just like I do not have the kind of brain to speak multiple languages, or the mind to speak prophetically, or the faith strong enough to move mountains, I cannot produce this kind of love. I try but I fail over and over again. It is the same as the fruit of the Spirit – I cannot produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). It’s not who I am…but it is who God is. Praise God, He knows I need his help.
Father, fill me with your patience and kindness. When the familiar enemy of jealousy rears its ugly head, give me your love. When pride, sarcasm and arrogance come naturally to my mind, erase them with your humble spirit. Lord, forgive me for all the moments when I am irritable or in a pouty mood. Give me a heart that cries out for justice for others, but not for myself. When I remember how someone has wronged me, remind me that I have forgiven them and that I am looking forward and not back. Heal my wounds and erase my memories so that only love lasts forever. Give me the kind of love that never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Amen.
All of the skills and strengths that make us well-known or well-liked here on earth will someday be useless. But LOVE LASTS FOREVER. Our understanding of God’s plan is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only a small portion of the grand picture of life. When the time of perfection comes, all of our partially completed goals will be useless.
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:11-13