I Corinthians 13 is one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture. I love the Message Bible version.
3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
8-10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
Is that awesome or what? I like to read the passage and substitute the word love with God. After all, God is love. In the secret place this morning, I read this as a prayer to God, thanking Him for the privilege to share His love with others.
When we are born again, we become the very definition of this love we read about. Everything we say or do should originate from that place. If you “put up boundaries” so other people can’t hurt you, that isn’t love, because then it’s all about you.
If you constantly hit people in the face with their sins and mistakes, that isn’t love. Love doesn’t keep score. None of that stuff matters.
If you stop loving someone because you can’t get anything else from them, that isn’t love. Love never fails.
If you require a person to do something before you love or accept them, that isn’t love. Jesus could have easily held back mercy and love when Peter lopped off the ear of Malchus in the garden. He had just been betrayed by one of his closest friends. Men were there to arrest Him and lock Him in chains even though He was innocent. In the world’s eyes, Jesus was having a very bad evening.
Can you imagine Jesus looking at Malchus and shaking His head. Saying “You come in here to arrest me, and I have done nothing wrong. I am innocent. You have no right to come against me like this. Oh, so your ear is lying on the ground, and I see blood pouring down your neck. I’ll tell you what. If you will crawl over here to me, apologize for being part of this lynch mob, and beg me for forgiveness, I might be able to help you.”
I can’t imagine Jesus saying anything like that. So why do we?
Jesus, staring directly into the face of extreme injustice, healed the man’s ear in a moment of compassion, mercy, and undeserving love. There is no way Malchus could have possibly walked away from that encounter unchanged.
We have to stop placing demands or expectations on our love for others. Jesus paid a high price to give us that love unconditionally. We need to do the very same.
It all begins with love.