Though I speak in tongues and prophesy with shocking accuracy… though I fiercely defend truth and valiantly guard good doctrine… though I silence the skeptic with skillful debate and bedazzle Christian minds with Biblical insights about love—but have not love—I am a bothersome ringing in God’s ears.
Though I weep for the nations and intercede for cities… though I have faith that scatters demons, lengthens limbs or brings multitudes to their knees… though my days be marked by fasting, my nights with fervent prayer and my years by serving on plague-ravaged soil—but have not love—to God I am nobody impressive.
Though I give lavishly to survivors of earthquakes, passionately pursue justice for the enslaved, care for our precious earth, fight tirelessly for the rights of the unborn… or the hated; I have helped others, as I should, and that is good. But if I have not love—it does not get me an ounce of credit with God.
Love suffers long and silently under unfair assumptions and cruel accusations—never feeling the need to defend or explain.
Love freely expresses genuine happiness over another’s success.
Love does not casually slip her good deeds into conversation.
Love prefers to others-promote.
Love cannot remember yesterday’s insensitive remarks. It has forgotten last year’s rude comment.
Love is not paranoid or suspicious; there is no fear in love.
Love is not quick to correct.
Love can take correction.
Love’s first response to injury is compassion—not exposure.
Love is crushed at the news of an enemy’s failure.
Love puts up with immature babble.
Love patiently bears with incessant whining, yet is not manipulated by it.
Love is gracious under unprofessionalism, never feeling the need to “help” by pointing out where improvement is needed. Yet it knows when to confront with fearless grace.
Love is not short with the telemarketer or stingy with the slow waiter.
Love does not get even with the in-law; it dares to get flowers instead.
Love spends itself caring for the aged mother, never mindful of lost opportunities.
Love holds close the distant teenager. It keeps holding tight around rigid arms.
Love never fails. Philosophies, programs, causes, books, lifestyles, facelifts, ministries, sermons, bailouts, heroes, romances, cash, adventures, diet plans, dating profiles, miracle drugs, business ventures, spouses, children, parents and friends may disappoint, fail and vanish away.
The sum total of all of our wisdom and knowledge combined is but a speck of dust compared to what we don’t yet know, but need to know. It will be done away with, when that which is all we ever needed comes to us.
It is time to put away childish thinking, living, behaving—childish loving.
One day we will see clearly the essence of love. We will see Him face to face, and we will know ourselves and each other as He has always known us.
People talk of the greatness of faith and hope. But one day there will be no more need for those. Only love will remain. For it is the greatest.
(See the original I Corinthians 13 for the truly inspired version.)