Friday, February 11, 2011 at 8:31pm
Paul tells us emphatically with beautiful language that “if [we] have no love, [we] are none the better.” Other translations render Paul’s statement as “[we] are nothing” if we “do not have love.”
We may have the ability to “speak human or angelic languages;” we may have “the gift of prophecy;” we may “understand all mysteries and all knowledge;” we may “have all faith so that [we] can move mountains;” but without love, none of these abilities are worth much. We are nothing and we gain nothing when we act without love.
Paul even speaks of charity as empty if it is done without love.
“Love is patient; love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude; never selfish, not quick to take offence. Love keeps no score of wrongs; does not gloat over other men’s sins, but delights in the truth. There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and its endurance.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NEB)
How many of us can say that we “keep no score of wrongs?” How many of us can say we are “never boastful, nor conceited?” How many of us are slow “to take offence?” How many of us are capable of facing anything with no limit to faith, hope, endurance? If this were so, no one would divorce; no one would strike a child in anger; no one would lie to get ahead or hide a wrongdoing to keep from appearing less capable. No one would do good in order to appear good.
“Love will never come to an end.” (1 Corinthians 13:8)
“Love keeps no score of wrongs,” writes Paul to the church at Corinth. Love “does not gloat over other men’s sins, but delights in the truth. There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and its endurance.”
How do we love without limit? The father of the prodigal son is a great example of loving without limit. His son demands his inheritance early, then when his father lovingly complies with this request, the son squanders the entire amount of his father’s hard-earned money. Later, during a famine which comes across the entire land, he finds himself wallowing in the mud along with pigs; alone and desperately hungry. No one is willing to help him. He thinks, I’ll go back to my father, the man I’ve disrespected and essentially cheated. Perhaps he’ll let me be as “one of [his] paid servants.” (Luke 15:20) When he returns, his father sees him coming from far off. This man goes out to his son. He takes the first step towards forgiveness, keeping “no score of wrongs.” This father’s love has “no limit to its faith, its hope, [or] its endurance.”
Jesus is, of course, the ultimate example of loving without limit. On the cross, as He is suffering, He looks out at His enemies, at those who have put Him there, and says, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.” This is love that has “no limit to its faith, its hope, [or] its endurance.”
Let’s love without limit. How do we accomplish this kind of love? Loving without limit requires the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. He loves through us. Only He is capable of not keeping “a score of wrongs,” of not losing hope, of enduring betrayal, lies, pain, wrongdoings of all sorts from those around us. Only God is capable of loving without limit.