Day 17

Love, the Superior Way

from the 1 & 2 Corinthians reading plan

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

BY Guest Writer

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.


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.

Post Comments (66)

66 thoughts on "Love, the Superior Way"

  1. Jennifer Anapol says:

    I love knowing that I cant be perfect, so I do I spend so much time trying to be? I can only love the way Jesus loves by abiding in his Spirit. I pray that I would grow closer and closer to him, so that I may love better. I also pray that loving him and those around me would be my ultimate goal every day.

  2. Karmen Furrow says:

    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.

  3. Shelby Lynn says:

    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.

  4. Amy Masaschi says:

    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!

  5. Heidi Jones says:

    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.

  6. Mandy W says:

    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.

    1. Emily M. says:

      So true!

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