Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
Love is such an overused word today. We flip from saying we love our spouse and family members to saying we love a certain tool or item of clothing. As a result, we do not have a clear definition of the word love. As a result, I propose that we need a greater understanding of what it means to love, particularly what it means to love our spouses, loved ones, and friends. We are going to spend time today looking in at Scripture to see what it has to say about what it truly means to love. And friends, if we get this, if we truly understand this, it will transform our relationships.
In 1 Corinthians 13, the apostle Paul defines love for us by giving us many different examples of what love is. Paul explains that if he had eloquent speech and perfect words, but did not have love, his words would be meaningless. He says if he had all of the spiritual gifts in the world, but was not loving, his actions would also be meaningless. He could do all the right things and say all the right words, but without love, his words and actions would fall short. Next, he explains what love is. Love, he says, is patient, kind, not jealous, not boastful or proud or rude, not demanding, and not irritable (verses 4-5). It rejoices with the truth, Paul writes. Love perseveres. Love is always full of hope. These things define love.
When you think about the words Paul uses to define love, are you truly showing love to your spouse, friends, and family members? Are you showing love to other Christ-followers? Let this definition of love Paul provides in 1 Corinthians 13 motivate you to truly love your spouse, family members, friends, and others you spend time around.
Spend some time today reflecting what it truly means to love. Re-read 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. After reading these verses, create your very own definition of the word love based on these verses. When you have created this definition, write about what it would look like for you today to demonstrate that kind of love to your spouse, to your family members, and your friends.
Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (NLT)
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. 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. 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.
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.
Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become 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.