We love the "love chapter." You know those pleasant little verses in 1 Corinthians that are read aloud at weddings. We often romanticize what true love really is...
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud
5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable,
and it keeps no record of being wronged.
6 It does not rejoice about injustice but
rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
7 Love never gives up, never loses faith,
is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Have you ever really thought about the placement of this chapter? No? Me either--until this week. I overheard a sermon introduction on the radio by Adrian Rogers. I was in the car and didn't have time to listen to the whole thing, just the first couple of minutes. However, there was enough food for thought in those first few minutes to set my mind to thinking and learn something new.
The "love chapter" as it's often referred to (1 Corinthians 13) is nestled in between chapters 12 and 14 which are about spiritual gifts and relating to the body of christ--other people.
Why would Paul, the author of this letter to the Corinthian church, decide to talk about love in the middle of teaching about spiritual gifts? It's all rather clear in those first few verses of this chapter...
1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels,
but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of
God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge,
and if I had such faith that I could move mountains,
but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.
3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body,
I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others,
I would have gained nothing.
You see, without love, all of these spiritual gifts are meaningless. Ministering to others without love is ineffective. Spiritual gifts aren't meant to be used or shared for our own benefit. That would be self-seeking and not loving toward others. They are meant to glorify God and build up others.
How do I love others--even strangers or those who are difficult to love--and still minister effectively? Well, it's not easy on my own. Some people are easier to love than others. It does not mean I have to have those gooey, lovey-dovey feelings for everyone. Love is way more than feelings, it's a decision--a choice that's made more in my head than in my heart.
My own love for God will result in me being able to love others through Him. God loves everyone so I can draw on that love if I love Him.
We love each other because he (GOD) loved us first. ~ 1 John 4:19
I wish I had a really great way to finish this, but let me use this somewhat crude illustration. My life should be a mirror. If I am constantly looking at God (through His Word), then I will reflect His love toward others. When I take my eyes off God, what am I reflecting to the world?