The next few Sanitizers will be about love. Specifically we will think together about Paul’s famous “love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13.
13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 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. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
That’s how the Revised Standard Version translates the Greek. Paul shocks us. He is saying in essence that you may be the most religious person in the world, doing perfectly what many strive to do but come up short. You may be the most exemplary Christian alive, but without love, it is a waste.
So let’s paraphrase what some of this. In Paul’s day, many people regarded speaking in tongues (glossolalia – speaking in a language unknown to you, e.g. It can also sound like gibberish) as the highest expression of worship. Paul is saying, “I may speak in tongues better than any person who ever lived. But if I don’t have love, I might as well put on a little party hat and blow a noise maker.” Peterson in “The Message” says, “I am the creaking of a rusty gate.”
In verse two Paul speaks of prophetic powers (the ability to understand and tell the will of God). “I may be the greatest preacher ever preached, the greatest philosopher ever to unwind the mysteries of the universe, people may ‘oh’ and ‘ah’ at every syllable I utter, I may literally know it all, but if I don’t have love? I am nothing.” “The Message” says about part of this verse, 2 If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.”
“I may give away my last farthing, I may even go the stake to be burned as a martyr for my faith, but if I don’t have love? I might as well have just gone to the beach for the afternoon.”
The greatest Christian in any church is the one who loves. As you know, love in the biblical sense is not an emotion, it is willing and working for the best for others.
Except God’s love. God’s love is also a profoundly deep feeling of yearning for us. Read Hosea 11 and see if I’m wrong.
As we’ll be reminded in the next few days, “Faith, hope, love abide. These three. But the greatest of these is love.” And as the first verses of 1 Corinthians 13 say so dramatically, love is the heart of our faith, of what God gives us and wants from us and wants us to exercise in the world.
Let’s pray. “Thanks for being a loving God. We know you want our uncompromised love. Help us to love you holding back nothing. We ask for the sake of Jesus. Amen.”