It’s seven degrees below zero outside, and I have ten inches of snow, although my lovely Chevy Malibu shaped lawn ornament has been kindly removed by my neighbor’s truck. I enjoy winter, but I will be very glad when spring gets here.
Today’s verse is one of those amazing passages that never gets old. It’s out of 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter. If you haven’t read it before, you should read the whole chapter, and even if you have read it before, I encourage you to go read it again. Read it in a different translation than you’re used to. I memorized it in the King James Version, but the New Living Translation’s version makes it so much clearer — the Message is also pretty incredible too.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
1 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. 2 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. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
I don’t know what I can say that will make that any clearer. I don’t know what I could write that could make any more sense than this does.
Love is everything. Love is what sets us apart. Love is what saved us. And if you don’t love, nothing else matters.
You can be wealthy. You can be brilliant. You can be funny. You can be important. You could speak every language in the world. You could understand God Himself, but if you don’t love others then it doesn’t mean anything. You’re nothing.
Love is that important.
At this point, I usually rail on religion because it forgets this. Religion isn’t about love. It’s about conformity and bondage. But I’m not going to. I just want to talk about love.
Love is the most important concept there is. If we can truly grasp that, our lives would be so much simpler. So much better. If we can truly love our neighbors, we can turn the world around. If we truly love the people who hurt us, what a difference that would make.
Love isn’t some innocuous nonspecific feeling. It’s a verb. It’s action. It’s looking at someone and seeing their faults and knowing that they’ve hurt you and choosing to think the best of them anyway. Choosing to forget that they’ve hurt you. Choosing to keep thinking the best of them even when you have every reason not to. It’s forgiving people. It’s letting go of the past. It’s not keeping track of past faults and bringing them up all the time.
You don’t have to live like that, of course. You can hold people at arm’s length. You can hold grudges and see only the wrongs that people have done all you like. But that is a hurtful way to live. It hurts you, and it hurts the people God could have helped through you. Besides, who wants to live like that?
Didn’t the Beatles sing “All You Need Is Love?” Maybe they were a secular band, but they got it right.
Love God. Love people.
The rest will work itself out.