Congregations get reputations. Oak Street Church was known for its pipe organ and it liturgical worship. Crosspoint Community had a great band and uplifting music. First Church had a great preacher for a pastor. The church at Corinth was known for its infighting and factions. They were Christians and they had received the Holy Spirit, but they didn’t demonstrate several common Christian characteristics.
Paul writes this letter to the Christians at Corinth to remind them that if they don’t have love nothing else matters. Paul even writes down a list of the type of love that he is talking about. It is a love that is patient, not boastful, doesn’t rejoice in wrong doing and bears all things. It is a very practical love for people who spend a lot of time together.
Paul reminds all of us that if we don’t have love we are missing a vital element in our lives. We may be filled with the Holy Spirit. We may be talented and gifted beyond imagination, but if we don’t have love the rest doesn’t matter. Love transforms lives and situations. Love is what God’s kingdom is all about.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.