Some things just don ‘t seem to fit – they are like too small shoes or too large trousers. The comment to a police officer that a driver didn’t know he was speeding, a football player who claimed that he didn’t know the opponent was out of bounds, a husband or wife who didn’t think that cheating “just once” could jeopardize their marriage – these are defensive comments that just don’t seem to fit.
The fact of the matter is that such small things (and many others) can and do hurt. They can be well-inflicted words that damage an individual and his or her welfare, well-being, and reputation. They can and do also hurt others.
In our text for today (1 Corinthians 13) St. Paul addresses this issue directly:
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
Lovelessness in its many forms does affect many people and many relationships. Self-interest, greed, envy, and hatred often become substandard substitutes for genuine love and concern for God and other humans. Adam and Eve discovered this when they fell into sin. Judas Iscariot discovered this after he betrayed Jesus to the high priests. Saul of Tarsus experienced it while he was on a “hunting trip” to Damascus. I have experienced it in my own life, and I have been affected by it as well.
It remains for us to better understand what true love is, what it is like, what it does, and what it leads to
Jesus put it this way:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:16-18
An automobile driver should be aware of his or her speed, a football player should be aware of the sidelines, a spouse should be constantly concerned about his or her relationship with the spouse, and a God-fearing individual should always keep in mind the importance of selflessness and love as personified by Jesus.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
That Love, the Love that saves us, the Love that we are to emulate, is Jesus Christ – God’s Son and our Savior!
God, grant us such love! Amen.