“Love Divine, all loves excelling,” begins Charles Wesley’s famous hymn. “Joy of heaven to earth come down / Fix in us thy humble dwelling / All thy faithful mercies crown./ Jesus, thou art all compassion / Pure, unbounded love thou art; / Visit us with thy salvation / Enter every trembling heart.” Praise is a natural response to the perfection of God’s love. First Corinthians 13 gives us a partial description of God’s love, as well as a challenge. Here the apostle Paul explains how we should love one another as Christ loved us! Without love, things that are otherwise considered good have no value (vv. 1–3). The good things used as examples here are spiritual gifts from the previous chapter, but the principle applies across the board. Without love, nothing is truly gained or accomplished.
Love has such a high value that we should be deeply interested in defining or describing it (vv. 4–7). Paul lists some of its qualities positively: what love is or does—such as showing patience, being kind, and persevering. We also learn what love isn’t or doesn’t do—such as “not self-seeking,” “not easily angered,” and “does not delight in evil” (vv. 5–6). Consider that Christ perfectly fulfilled each of these standards and more!
The bottom line is that everything fails or runs out except love (vv. 8–13). The world is characterized by change, decay, and death. Our understanding of life, of God, and of our purpose is partial at best. But one day, “when completeness comes”—a reference to Christ’s return—this will end (v. 9). Our knowledge will be far greater, like passing from childhood to adulthood. Most importantly, we’ll know Him clearly and directly. We’ll see Him face to face. How we long for that glorious day!
>> Today, choose one of the qualities of love listed in verses 4–7. Ask God to show you how you can grow in this particular aspect of love during this Advent season. Make that quality your focus in prayer this weekend.
Heavenly Father, which quality of love would you have us focus on this weekend? Please sustain us as we strive to emulate Christ’s perfect love toward others.