I saw a few quotes about love this morning pop up in my Facebook feed, and I noticed that while many of them hit home about finding love again, or allowing oneself to love, or even what love isn’t, none of them were as simple and elegant as my favorite passage about love in the entire world, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. However, it was in responding to a post of dear friend from high school, that something clicked for me.
“What is seen was not made up of what is visible!”
I guessed “faith”. Then this morning, I came back and added hope and love. He let me know this was from Hebrews 11:3b just now while I was writing this. (Thanks friend!!)
While I may not consider myself a Christian in the most typical sense of the term, I have, ever since I was a little girl, been in love with 1Corinthians 13. My grandmother gave me one of those Precious Moments copies of it when I was little, and I have not been able to find it since Mom’s passing. I hope to find it again somewhere among all my boxes and boxes of treasured memories. …it is truly one of most precious possessions.
When my mother passed away on December 19, 2000, I knew in an instant what I would read at her service. Family members asked me repeatedly if I thought this was wise…not because it is controversial, but because of its power. Not one of them believed they could make it through it, and even our friend (Mormon Bishop but close family friend to us all) offered to read it for me.
But I was firm. I stood that day in front of all our family and friends, and in a strong voice that might have cracked only a couple of times, read these words that so completely summed up my Mother’s heart, her soul, and her relationship with all around her. I read this straight from my copy of the Living Bible, Family Edition given to my by my grandparents a few days before my wedding in December of 1984. I stood and read the entire Chapter 13:1-13. I have given presentations in front of hundreds at conventions of my peers, but never has a reading been more difficult, yet so easy in my entire life. Mom had loved me well. Originally, I had only planned to share verses 1-3 on the blog, but as I typed, I knew I had to go back and include it all. The internet inspirational posters can’t come close to capturing the power and beauty of these words when lifting only portions of 4-8.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
If I had the gift of being able to speak in other languages without learning them, and could speak in every language there is in all of heaven and earth, but didn’t love others, I would only be making noise. If I had the gift of prophecy and knew all about what is going to happen in the future, knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others, what good would it do? Even if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, I would still be worth nothing at all without love. If I gave everything I have to poor people, and I were burned alive for preaching the Gospel but didn’t love others, it would be of no value whatever.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices when truth wins out. If you love someone you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.
1 Corinthians 13:8-10
Al the special gifts and powers from God will someday come to an end, but love goes on forever. Someday prophecy, and speaking in unknown languages, and special knowledge–these gifts will disappear. Now we know so little, even with our special gifts, and the preaching of those most gifted is still so poor. But when we have been made perfect and complete, then the need for these inadequate special gifts will come to an end, and they will disappear.
1 Corinthians 13:11-12
It’s like this: when I was a child I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child does. But when I became a man my thoughts grew far beyond those of my childhood., and now I have put away the childish things. In the same way, we can see and understand only a little about God now, as if we were peering at his reflection in a poor mirror; but someday we are going to see him in his completeness, face to face. Now that all I know is hazy and blurred, but then I will see everything clearly, just as clearly as God see into my heart right now.
1 Corinthians 13:13
There are three things that remain–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.