1 Corinthians 13 NIV
“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. 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. 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. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 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. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 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. 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. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 NIV https://www.bible.com/111/1co.13.1-13.niv
I use this as a measuring tool with which I compare my life. And I fall short often.
Verse one is talking about speaking in tongues. A lot of people believe speaking in tongues is a mark of spirituality or spiritual superiority but Paul compares those who speak in any language without love to be like some random noise. The reason that’s so significant to me is because the difference between a noise and a message is the words. A noise deliveries no message, so when we speak in tongues without love, it robs the act of its meaning, making it basically useless. Imagine thinking you are representing God by operating in a gift of utterance, only to have it without purpose for its meaning is gone due to a lack of message. We put more emphasis on the spiritual gift than we do on the purpose it is meant to serve.
The next couple of verses are talking about the same dependence on love for other gifts of the spirit.
Then verse 4 through 7 describe love, and this is my measuring stick. This is where I fall short. I’m not patient. At times I’m not kind. I have been known to be envious. I tend to dishonor others, seeking self first. I am easily angered and I have been know to keep mental record of past wrongs of others. In my mind I always protect, but that’s not always true. And I have room for growth regarding trust and hope.
This is not a message of condemnation, but of hope and love, because He gave us a guideline–we just have to meditate on it and start applying it. We cannot say we are Christian and then not emphasize through our actions the one aspect that so defines Jesus, which is love.
We must love. We must become love. To ourselves and to others.