The One Thing

October 14, 2020

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NLT

Everyone loves these words. They are read at hundreds, probably thousands, of wedding ceremonies each year. They arouse sentimentality and emotion. But the whole point of Paul’s “love chapter” is far more than sentimentality and “feel good.” Paul says that everything we have to offer will not matter without love, and that love is deep, committed, and expressed in action. 

These verses mention the kinds of things we believe will make us successful, attractive, and desirable:

  •  Communication skills: One of the most common reasons couples go to counseling is communication issues. They say, “We just can’t communicate.” “He won’t talk.” “She talks in circles.” They say they need the other one to learn to speak their language. But Paul says the best communicator is nothing unless he/she has love.
  •  Intelligence and knowledge: We want the person we choose to be smart, capable, and have a mature knowledge of life. We want to be proud of them, both persons growing, so that we don’t drift apart. But again, Paul reminds us that brilliance, even being so smart as to be able to know and understand all of God’s plans, can’t make up for a lack of active love. The really intelligent person without love is nothing.
  • Religious faith: Nothing is much more common these days than religious people with terrible relationships. We read about celebrity religious leaders whose homes fell apart, and we see it all around us. Big faith can’t make up for lack of love.
  • Generosity: Even physical sacrifice, generosity, and compassion big enough to give away everything—that’s a really attractive quality. But if it’s done without real love it conveys condescension, often a sense of obligation, and nothing to build a relationship on.  

The kind of love Paul is talking about is what it takes for a relationship to thrive. It’s God’s kind of love. It requires getting close to God and loving Him first and foremost with all we have. Then He equips us to love as He loves. He gives us the strength to accept, forgive, live in humility with fallible, imperfect people, owning that we are fallible and imperfect as well. But His love makes us someone who can love and is worth loving.  

  • What do you tend to count on to make you valuable in a relationship?  
  • How do you need to increase the depth of your love and connection with God?