If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all
mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but
do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. ~1Cr 13:1-3
How well-known is the love passage that follows these three verses? I’ll bet you could recite it-at least some of it. “Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast…” These words cover wedding invitations, wall art of every variety. They find their way into music stanzas, and perhaps most notably this time of year, are scripted into countless Valentine’s Day cards.
But very often these lovely words are minimally applied. Love–agape, is the call of every
believer. Paul wrote this passage to a church, and it directly follows a section in which he fleshed out spiritual gifts. So, when he begins with, “if I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love…” It is an extension of what he’d been addressing before. The church, every member, expressing the agape of God by how they live, what they do, how they serve.
See, back in chapter 12 of the book of Romans, Paul wrote that we, believers, are to living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God. In other words, we are supposed to live a life that resembles Jesus. A life of service, of sacrifice; of love.
Love isn’t the warm fuzzies of an emotional moment. It’s not flowery and poetic and pretty. It’s hard. It gets down on its hands and knees to wash what no one else wants to touch. It offers kindness to the most undeserving gentile sinner. It forgives a traitor, one who has denied Him in the face of agony. It flings the wrongs done against Him as far as the east is from the west. In this evil-infested, fickle world, love never fails.
Unfailing love. That’s a little more than hearts and roses and pretty penmanship. It’s a tall, gritty order.
And it is the life to which I have been called.