1 & 2 Corinthians: Day 17

Love, the Superior Way

by

Today's Text: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, Ezekiel 20:35, Galatians 5:5-26

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, Ezekiel 20:35, Galatians 5:5-26

Love, as framed in 1 Corinthians 13, was framed for me as a child of six. It was a perfect square made of 15 smaller squares, each cross-stitched in pastel blues and pinks and yellows. I stared at it for hours of my childhood because it sat above the baby grand piano at which I endured years of piano lessons.

Every week I would stare at those squares in the dim light of my piano teacher’s studio and count with the metronome until I could leave. It’s no wonder she told my parents I was a hopeless case and to put me in soccer or horseback riding when, after four years of lessons, I was still incapable of playing the most rudimentary scales. I wasn’t listening to a word she said. But I still remember the cross-stitched squares perfectly today.

I don’t know about you, but love is hard for me. Love as a noun is okay. It’s very ethereal and nebulous and conjures up good feelings, emotions. “Love is love,” is what the cool kids are all saying. Okay, well… yes, but milk is milk and books are books and, of course, a thing is what it is. But what does that mean? Love as a noun is something, yes, but love is so much more than the smell of a newborn, or the flutters of a new relationship, or the feeling you have toward street tacos or 230-calories-per-serving ice cream or getting the thing you want. Love is so much more and so much harder than those things. It often feels more like a tone-deaf person practicing scales than it does anything sweet or nice or pastel.

If I’m honest, real love (the kind Paul writes about in this chapter) sounds like a symphony I’m never going to be able to play. It sounds beautiful and hopeless at the same time. I am never going to be capable of being perfectly patient, perfectly kind, perfectly without envy or boasting. I can barely bear some things, but how could I possibly bear all things? If what Paul is talking about is the definition of love, I’ve been practicing for a long time, and I need to find another hobby.  

The comfort of this chapter, for the ones who are as hopeless about love as I am, is further down: “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (v. 12, emphasis mine).

The harmony of these two sections clue us in to the true meaning of this text: just as my knowledge is partial, my love is partial. But just as I am fully known, I am fully loved. By whom? By the only One whose love is perfect. By the only One whose love is perfectly patient, perfectly kind, perfectly able to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things. There is only One who has endured all things, and this is Christ.

Practice will not make my love perfect or even easy in this Christian life, no matter how hard we run our scales. Discipline is good and sanctification is sure; kindness will come more easily, patience more freely, but still imperfectly. But Paul assures us our dim sight won’t last forever and the scales will someday fall. Even still, “these three remain: faith, hope, and love” (v. 13). One day we will see fully and be seen fully by the greatest of all these—Love Himself, Jesus.

SRT-Corinthians-Shareimage-Day17

Lore Ferguson Wilbert is a writer, thinker, and learner. She blogs at Sayable, and tweets and instagrams at @lorewilbert. She has a husband named Nate, a puppy named Harper Nelle, and too many books to read in one lifetime.

  • Karmen Furrow

    I really enjoyed the way Lore wrote this. It’s a great blend of insight into her person so we can relate, and the strong truth that only the perfection of Jesus is enough, and He is enough.

  • Shelby Lynn

    A huge weight on my shoulders was removed reading this post. Simply stated that my love will always be imperfect but the attributes in 1 Cor 4-7 over time will come more easily. OH THANK YOU LORD. As Your love is a love I strive to give, I know in this fallen world I shall fall short and that is okay. Thank you for this message today. I can rest knowing, I will not be the perfect wife; as that has been an unrealistic expectation I have held onto.

  • Amy Masaschi

    She tapped into a real truth for me: I cannot love perfectly or be perfectly patient or be perfectly kind (or any of those other things either!). Which is why we need Jesus! He IS perfect in all those things. When we are incapable, he is fully capable! Holy Spirit fill me with the power to love as you have loved me!

  • Heidi Jones

    Love does not envy…it does not insist on its own way. I need to soak this truth in. I am going through an incredibly difficult time and it has been difficult not to envy what others have and often take for granted… but the truth is that I’m not showing love.

  • Having this kind of love would make one really stand out in a dark and hurting world. And this love can only come from God.what He’s been showing me is that I cannot produce this love on my own. I have to daily and hourly ask for Him to give me this love for me to have towards others. Chapter 13 isn’t a checklist. These are traits only the love given by the spirit can produce.

  • Having this kind of love would make one really stand out in a dark and hurting world. And this love can only come from God.what He’s been showing me is that I cannot produce this love on my own. I have to daily,

  • Someone else mentioned to check out the He Reads Truth for this – I’m so glad I did. I’ve been doing that a lot lately, and I am bowled over by the writing iver there.
    The fact that this is true makes me sad. It’s just another place that I, as a Christian woman, am relegated to (certainly lovely, but rather fluffy) pieces about cross-stitch or baking or child-bearing. The HRT mentions how these verses have “teeth” – it feels like SRT is constantly trying to de-fang, because…why? I’m a woman and therefore need something gentler? I don’t know. But I see this in churches constantly, and it’s repeated here, too. I like intellectual rigor, and to be challenged, and to see the “teeth” and the hardness of the gospel. I don’t want or need to be coddled.

  • LeighAnn Pruiksma

    Can someone from the SRT team give insight on to the verse in Ezekiel correlating with the 1 Corinthians 13 passage?

  • Brianna Foshie

    I pray everyday that his love works through me to serve others

  • I really appreciate this honest and humble reflection on the scripture. I’m going through moments with my daughter, and as a single mom, where I know that my love is imperfect. I can be less than patient, and am ashamed to admit to feeling pangs of envy upon seeing others who have a loving father or coparent. And I just keep trying, keep practicing, and focus on gratitude instead. I love this revelation, though, that gives hope ❤️

  • Can someone explain the relevance and insight that the Ezekiel verse brings to 1 Corinthians 13? Thanks!

    • Colleen Olson

      I’m wondering the SAME thing! (?) Praying someone provides insight :)

    • Susan Crosby

      I believe the difference is in the judgment of a mature believer and a new believer. A mature believer faces stronger judgement in relationship to sin. The section in the reading from Galatians also mentions several sins of the flesh and tell us that those who practice such things which means as a continuing way of life will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Although the reading focused on Love we are reminded of the Judgement of God which many like to ignore.

    • LeighAnn Pruiksma

      I was wondering the same thing!!!

  • Sitting at the airport, ready to go visit my daughter, reading this one day late (yesterday’s reading), and started to cry. Because I took piano lessons, and because I recited this chapter with my Sunday school class in front of church, and because I too realize and am hit with the futility, despite much practice, and over effort, to succeed at love. It’s barely 10 a.m., and I’ve already failed with words in my attempt to love my adult son. And will likely not achieve expectations with my daughter this weeekend. Humbled and grateful to read and remember that one day “the scales will fall”. I am loved, I will continue to love, imperfectly as my attempts may be. Thank you!

    • Shannon

      I had the same response this morning (2 days late, ha!) as we are going through a difficult phase with my young son. I was challenged and convicted by the reading to take a deep breath, wrap myself in God’s grace once again, and start with a clean slate this morning. Patience. Kindness. Not demanding my own way. Not irritable. Never giving up. Never losing faith. Always hopeful. Enduring through every circumstance. Only through Jesus Christ can I even begin to attempt all these things.

  • “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” This verse gives me peace as I feel hopeless about the way I execute the rest of this passage in real life. There is hope for me! Thank you Lord. What a treasure it is to be fully known.

  • Monica Davis

    Love is love; milk Is milk.

  • First of all, I love reading this chapter! The devotion was a good example of the kind of love we are supposed to show. It is hard sometimes to not think of the feel- fuzzy love we all enjoy. I would like some oppinions on one thing, In Galatians 5:14 Paul tell us the ” the whole law is fulfilled in …”love your neighbor…. Then drop down to verse 18 “but if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law”.
    This kind of inverse confuses me in Biblical teaching, and this is even in the same chapter Paul is writing. Can anyone give me some understanding of what he is trying to teach his church?

    • Sandra Hosley

      Remember Jesus’ teachings from the gospels regarding the question about which law was the most important? Jesus summed the whole of the law up in two statements of EQUAL importance (love God and love your neighbor) because he was talking to those under the law (the Spirit had not yet been given). So, I think verse 14 is for those who, by their own effort (walk by sight), still try to keep the law while verse 18 is for those who yield to the Spirit (walk by faith)…I hope this makes sense outside of my own head. God bless and thanks for giving me an extra morsel to chew on!

      • Jennifer

        yes, you explained it the way I see it also. The Ten Commandments (the old law) can be summed up in two commandments as you said. By walking by the Spirit, God’s spirit, the Holy Spirit, instead of choosing fleshly desires, We are obeying these commands. We know we cant love everyone else if we cannot first love God. The Spirit led life can be confusing at first until I studied it a bit more in a study group. Kind of the same as one church but many members or the Trinity. We are one body made up of three parts: Body, soul, and Spirit. “Our flesh is weak, but his Spirit is strong in me. My flesh may fail, but My God you never will…Give me Faith to trust what you say, that you’re good, that your LOVE is great ” great song by Elevation Worship…. If we choose daily to deny our fleshly desires by feeding our Spirit with the word , prayers, etc, then eventually by the renewing of our minds, the flesh and the soul ( mind, will, emotions) will follow. This is in a perfect world of course.. We all far short…Thank you for Jesus and may we all walk in the Spirit and in step with the spirit: May our purpose align with God’s will more and more as we seek him! May we do all things out of pure love.

        • Jen

          Thanks to everyone who gave me guidance. I appreciate it. I get confused about the law.
          God bless you all

    • JV

      Hi Jen,
      My study bible commentary explains it like this:
      Galatians 5:13 (FSB): “Paul urges the Galatians to use their freedom from the law’s requirements to fulfill the law’s essence: love of neighbor. According to Paul, God frees believers from slavery under the law so that they choose to serve one another.
      Galatians 5:18 (FSB): The Spirit and the law represent mutually exclusive ways of living. Either people live according to the flesh by satisfying its desires, or they live according to the Spirit of God in a manner that reflects His character. Paul lists key characteristics in vv. 22–23.
      The law can define and identify sin, but it cannot provide the power to resist sin. Nor does the law instill within people the concerns, desires, and character of God. However, believers are not left on their own. They have been given the Spirit of the living God to empower them against sin and to transform their hearts and minds.”
      I hope this helps!

      • 'Jennifer

        Wow, I love this! What bible do you use? I love how they explain this. I have the She Reads Truth Bible but I’ve been meaning to find one with commentary similar to yours. Please let me know. Thank you for the message!

  • Kat Hensley

    I pray that God grants me special assistance when I encounter the next “hard to love” person comes my way. I usually distance myself but It could be beneficial for both of us if I try rather than retreating.

  • Melissa Waterson

    So, so, so good and timely! Thank you SRT ❤️

  • This reading and devotional have filled me with hope and (imperfect) love! Love is the hardest and easiest rule to follow. It is easy to love our partner/spouse, but so hard to love our neighbor/enemy. May we all remember that our love will never perfect, but we are loved perfectly by Jesus! Amen.

  • This is a nice devo. But the He Reads Truth devo comes at it from a completely different perspective and it knocked.me.over. Wow. I encourage others to check out the he read truth devo from today!!!!

    • Jennifer

      Thank you for encouraging me to read the men’s devotion too! Holy cow! It made made me really think!

    • Wendy

      Totally going to read the HRT devos now too! Today’s was so good. Thank you for sharing!

    • Elaine

      how can i get them? i have looked for a he reads truth app but cant find it.

      • Jen

        Alicia, how do I get the HRT devotion?

        • Jen

          Elaine, I think I figured out how. Go to He Reads Truth .com the subscribe, you will check that you want the daily readings which they email. I think that’s how. I’m trying that.

      • She Reads Truth

        Hi Elaine, you can subscribe to the HRT e-mails and each day’s devotionals will also be posted on the HRT app and at HeReadsTruth.com/plans/. Hope that helps! -Margot, The SRT Team

  • England Elsie

    I appreciate the devotional but I’m struggling with it. I think we need to be firmer with this passage to the church at Corinth. I don’t think it’s about us but what we can do for others. To deny ourselves and to love others. I think He Reads Truth is also worth a read….

  • Jennifer Smith

    I needed this so much today. I prayed yesterday about connecting with the word and having my shortcomings addressed. I don’t always love my neighbour as myself, not always patient, not always kind BUT the Lord is and I need to turn to him fully.

  • I needed this. I live under constant condemnation of myself for not being able to perfect all of the attributes of love. This post speaks to me freedom and hope. Thank you!

  • Alicia Hosan

    “Just as my knowledge is partial, my love is partial. BUT just as I am fully known, I am fully loved.”
    A truthful reminder I need to hear often, that even through my imperfections, Christ fully knows me and not only that but fully loves me and that will never change.

  • She writes that Jesus is the only One that has endured all things. I’ve been hearing so many teachings about this lately. Thank you for the reminders. He knows all about temptation, rejection, loneliness, abandonment, being misunderstood, being despised, physical and mental abuse, and betrayal. He took all of our sins! I imagine Him seeing each sin of each person flashing before Him and feeling the agony and shame. He truly can understand anything we’ve been through. Yet, He didn’t sin. He’s amazing and our Advocate. This was the Bible verse on my app today! “Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.”
    ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭MSG‬‬ and another translation is “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
    ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬ Im thankful for Jesus and for all He’s done. Thankfully, we can come to the throne of grace!

  • This is so beautifully written and just what I needed to read as I fail miserably at this call to love everyday! I related to the piano story (sorry I laughed a bit) as I took lessons for 6 years and barely can even read notes. Thank you for this perspective and it is in our imperfect loving that He makes all things perfect. Have a great day, ladies.

  • Churchmouse

    Ah love… How to define it accurately…

    Take 1 Corinthians 13 and remove the word Love and insert Jesus.

    Jesus is patient.
    Jesus is kind.
    Jesus does not envy.
    Jesus is not arrogant.
    Jesus is not rude.
    Jesus is not self – seeking.
    Jesus is not irritable.
    Jesus does not keep a record of wrongs.
    Jesus finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth.
    Jesus bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
    Jesus never ends.

    Looking for love? Look at Jesus. Look to Jesus.
    He’s looking back. With love.

  • Kelly Chataine

    Falling short of the mark but thanking God for the many ways He continues to strengthen my love responses and actions. I will be rereading and reflecting on God’s love for me and how I am to love others. I keep pressing on.

  • Beautiful

  • Starlight

    I often think about love and truth. I have a friend who I have a spiritual dilemma with. She’s no longe a Christian and has gotten deep into the New Age movement. I go back and forth between encouraging her and leading her away. I don’t want to be too harsh and I don’t want to be too encouraging of a thing that is not the truth. I often think about what it means to truly care about someone and that includes telling them when they are wrong. And telling someone they’re wrong has been a hard thing for me to do but it is so necessary sometimes.

    • Kelly Chataine

      Oh, Starlight, that is difficult. Keep praying. Let God show you and provide a way for you with your friend. God bless you!

      • Jen

        I agree it can be hard. In Galatians 5:7-10, Paul talks about those that are getting persuasion from those other than the Lord. This happens all the time in life but we are also encourage to love and except everyone. I think we can always love them and want what is right for them, encouraging them, but when you speak the truth (Bible) to them we are judging, according to the world. It is so hard. I agree to keep loving and praying for God to work in her heart.

    • Cori S.

      I’m in a similar position…

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