We call 1 Corinthians 13 the Love Chapter. It is without a doubt the most beautiful treatise ever written on the subject of love. It is often read at special occasions such as weddings. Unfortunately, we can get the wrong impression of these words when we just read them in very special circumstances where we all feel good. It was really written to help loveless people learn how to love. It was written to the kind of people who feel awful because they have just hurt those around them because they didn’t know how to control their anger and their words. It was written to the husband who just walked out on his wife because he was so frustrated. It was written to the wife who has just belittled her husband because she is so disappointed in him. It was written to the parents who have just yelled at their children because they are short on patience.
If you want to see just how loveless you are, then try a test. See how you feel when you fill in your name instead of the word love. I will put my name in as an example.
“Boyd is patient and kind; Boyd does not envy or boast; he is not arrogant or rude. He does not insist on his own way; he is not irritable or resentful; he does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Boyd bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Boyd never fails."
(1 Cor. 13:4-8). Do the same thing for yourself, and you will know how I feel: not very loving at all.
When I read my name in the passage, I am smacked with a reality check. I fall so short of even coming close in any of those areas. Instead of making me feel good, this passage makes me feel terrible. I know one thing and that is if I am going to be able to love like this, God will have to help me do it.
However, when I insert the name of Jesus in the place of love, it fits perfectly.
“Jesus is patient and kind; Jesus does not envy or boast; he is not arrogant or rude. He does not insist on his own way; he is not irritable or resentful; he does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Jesus bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Jesus never fails."
(1 Cor 13:4-8).
Jesus is the only one who ever loved this way, and he is the only one who can teach us how to love this way. Jesus never did anything without love. He even loved his enemies and prayed for those who killed him. We won’t ever know real love unless Jesus introduces us to that kind of love. Without Jesus we are hopelessly inadequate to love others. Because Jesus loves us precisely the way Paul describes, we are empowered to love as he loves us. Remember that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners, and there is no greater love than that. Jesus died for loveless people everywhere, and if we let him, he will show us how to love.