Last weekend Jason and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. Where did the years go? I wish that I had just a half an hour with that 22 year old girl that walked down the aisle...there were so many lessons that took so long for me to learn! :) That is a whole other blog post. In light of our anniversary approaching I pulled out the gift that the minister who performed our ceremony gave to Jason and me. It's a book with the message that he delivered at our wedding and the vows we spoke to each other. I love it! It is such a wonderful gift and I'm so thankful Nathan did that for us.
In his message he reads part of the 1 Corinthians 13 passage. We all know it. You may have even had it in your wedding ceremony! The whole chapter wasn't included in our ceremony, so I pulled it out to read again. Wow...the words and the description that Paul gives us of love is so intimidating. They are so intimidating because I know I haven't loved that way. I know I can't love that way. Read the words of Paul.
13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 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.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(New International version)
Even on my best day...the absolute best I have ever had in my life...I can't even begin to be the love that is described in this chapter. But, what if Paul isn't describing for me how I should love, but instead is describing how Jesus loved? When I look at in that way...all of the pressure is off. Paul is describing Christ not me. He is showing us the only one capable of perfect love. I can't be those things but I don't have to, because Christ is those things and it is him living in me. My commentary (Bruce, Zondervan) suggests taking out the word love and substituting Christ in its place. Reading it that way has given new meaning into this passage. I am so thankful for the grace and the abundant perfect love of Christ.
13... But the greatest of these is Christ.