“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.” -1 Corinthians 13:4-6
This is what God’s love looks like, St. Paul writes. And this is what God’s love doesn’t look like. Familiar and beloved as this passage is, I had never before noticed how much more Paul tells us what love isn’t compared to what love is. But it makes sense. Paul was writing to a fractious church whose diversity was an excuse for negative community-wounding behavior.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the nations, all the peoples of the world, took this passage to heart and chose love? Of if we, in our little community of St. Paul’s, grew more and more into God’s love as Paul reveals it? And, not to miss the point, if the writer of this passage you are now reading learned finally to be authentically patient and kind? Can this child of God put aside all envy, boastfulness, arrogance, rudeness, insistence on my own way, resentment, rejoicing in wrongdoing? Can God’s love live without God’s truth?
I’ve got work to do. Holy work. Thanks, St. Paul!
Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing: send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts your greatest gift, which is love. We pray this in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.