In his famous sonnet, William Shakespeare praised the steadfast nature of love:
“Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark [ship].”
In simpler words, true love is like the North Star, a firm reference point for navigating the storms of life. In today’s reading, Paul contrasts human love with God’s love. This famous chapter begins by proclaiming the value of love as the most important Christian virtue (vv. 1–3). No matter how spectacular a spiritual gift is (1 Corinthians 12), it’s worthless without love.
Key qualities of love are then presented (vv. 4–8). You will notice that some describe what love looks like in action, what it does. For example, “love is patient,” “rejoices with the truth,” and “always hopes.” Then we learn what love does not do, for example, love “does not envy,” “is not self-seeking,” and “keeps no record of wrongs.” Finally, 1 Corinthians 13 explains how love is intertwined with our growing to spiritual maturity (vv. 9–12). While spiritual gifts are temporary, love is eternal.
The bottom line? “Love never fails” (v. 8). This makes sense, since God never fails and God is love (1 John 4:8). We know human love fails all the time. Despite our best efforts, we fall short of loving in a pure and consistent way. But not God’s love. It has never failed! Never. Not even once, in all of history. We can rejoice, then, that we are eternally, unfailingly loved by God. No failure on our part can remove us from His love. And because of this, we can and should love one another: “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
>> Consider the way you show love and the way you experience God’s love? How can we cultivate such love in our own lives? By imitating Christ, the perfect example of love. Consider today how you can express God’s love to someone in your life.
First Corinthians 13 presents a beautiful picture of God’s love. Pray through the qualities of love in this chapter, asking God to increase the love in your heart.