Devotion for October 17, 2023

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Ah, we’ve come to the part of the Bible that even non-believers can get around. As a Pastor, I’ve participated in dozens of funerals and weddings (Christian and non-Christian) over the years. And next to Psalm 23, this passage is probably the most commonly chosen. It speaks so poetically of love and all that love means. It rolls off even the most incompetent reader’s tongue.

British evangelist G. Campbell Morgan wrote that examining this chapter is like “dissecting a flower to understand it. If you tear it apart too much, you lose the beauty.” This is kind of ironic, considering this Bible passage is probably one of the most commented on and spoken about. I’ve heard many different interpretations, from preachers substituting the names of the bride and groom for where “love” is written (and there’s always a giggle when the minister says, “Harry is patient”, and everyone knows full well that Harry is not of the patient sort). Or substituting the word “love” for God, even, which makes sense, given he is love. Many preachers also speak of the Greek term here, agape, as the ultimate, sacrificial love. The kind of love that only God can perfectly fulfil. And many talk of love as a doing word, not just an emotion.

This message of love can be found in most prominent secular stories, too; the protagonist in Hollywood blockbusters and best-selling novels always finds out that a great act of sacrificial love triumphs over every and all evil. Love saves the day. Love wins. Love actually is all around.

We read all this, and it makes it seem like love is all-powerful and stronger than anything. But the irony and the paradox is that, as CS Lewis points out, “to love at all is to be vulnerable”. True love is completely vulnerable and relinquishing power — hence the sacrifice part. This is the thing that continues to make heads spin when we try to think about it. But perhaps that’s the point. We can’t think about it. We just have to do it.

We risk a lot by doing love. But the best part of being a Christian is knowing that our God experienced that himself. God is love, and love does. God’s love is risky love.

Prayer

God, the fact that you love continues to boggle our minds. Please continue to surprise and challenge us with what love means. Thank you for doing the greatest act of love. Help us, through the Holy Spirit, to not just feel love but to do it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Stay encouraged!

Pastor Mike

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