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. 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. (1 Corinthians 13:1-7 ESV)
I’ll never forget the first time I really read and understood this verse. I was young, and a “new Christian”; one who’d only known Christ & the church for a short time. I felt an undeniable passion to pursue God, and a strong urge to share this newfound joy and understanding with those around me. The problem with my sense of urgency, however, was that I didn’t yet know much. I hadn’t really lived for a time as a Christian, which meant I hadn’t had time to feel the sting of making “new” mistakes after “being saved”, and I knew little of the Bible or stories of others on the “Christian walk”. Though I had zeal, I lacked the maturity and depth of understanding that is required to approach others in a truly loving way. In truth, I was only beginning to understand what love really was.
When, as Christians, we feel passionate about a particular topic it can be so difficult to remember that we are called by God to LOVE. More than that, we are not to love sometimes, or only when it’s easy, but ALWAYS. Our culture is attracted to strength, and the idea of justice or even vengeance when we feel indignation. We have a perfect example, however, in Jesus. Jesus was the most powerful being on earth, but He was the very picture of perfect love, humility and friendship.
Beloved, remember as you go through this life that you have been called by God to show love to those around; even to those you cannot understand. The next time you feel passionate, don’t let your nature become prideful, argumentative, defensive or harsh. Remember instead the divine example of Christ, the perfect love that has been shown to you, and regard others with love and gentleness.
Love first, love last and love always!