Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Cor. 13:4-8 ESV)
First Corinthians 13:1-7, the “Love Passage,” is one of the most beloved passages in the entire Bible. And for good reason. In that passage, Paul begins by saying, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not 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 have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” His point is simple. No matter how talented or gifted or intelligent or indispensable one may appear to be or thinks he is, ability without love rings hollow. Gifting without love leads to arrogance, self-aggrandizement, self-centeredness, and a prima donna complex. This is a valuable lesson for all Christians, but especially for those who serve in ministry. So often we have been shocked by extremely talented ministers who fall from grace due to some horrific scandal, often involving sex or money. This is because their ministry was not driven by love for God and love for people (Matt 22:37-39), but rather by love for self. Gifting without love is like a “noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” You cannot make music with just a gong or a cymbal. You can make noise, but you cannot make music no matter how talented of a gong player you are. Thus, talent without love is meaningless. But what is love? “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” Notice love is an action. Love does or does not do certain things. Love is patient, kind, rejoices with the truth, bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things. Love is not envious, boastful, arrogant, rude, self-serving, and does not rejoice in wrongdoing. Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person. Love is a verb.
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