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.

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.

Post Comments (66)

66 thoughts on "Love, the Superior Way"

  1. 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,

  2. Amy says:

    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.

  3. LeighAnn Pruiksma says:

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

    1. Amy Videon says:

      I understood it to be a supplement to what Paul says in verse 12 – what we will see face to face.

  4. Brianna Foshie says:

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

  5. Stefanie says:

    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 ❤️

  6. bev says:

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

    1. Colleen Olson says:

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

    2. Susan Crosby says:

      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.

    3. LeighAnn Pruiksma says:

      I was wondering the same thing!!!

  7. Nancy says:

    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!

    1. Shannon says:

      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.

  8. Becky says:

    “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.

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