1 Corinthians 13
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
The “great hymn of love” is one of the most sublime passages authored by the apostle Paul. As a religion teacher, I enjoy seeing my students get married. Rarely have I officiated a wedding where this passage was not incorporated.
As Christians it can be easy to become focused on outward forms to indicate spirituality. It is possible to understand even the many nuances of end-time events and keeping the seventh-day Sabbath, but without God’s love changing the way we live and treat one another, it really does not count. The motif behind an action matters as much as the action itself.
Pastor Paul further teaches that love is no mere feeling. God’s selfless love is utterly transformative. Imagine what would happen if we read this chapter before engaging in online conversations? I do believe that we could use more patience and kindness in our virtual discourse, without dishonoring others, self-seeking, or keeping record of wrongs (see verses 4-5). This includes not passing along false information or conspiracy theories (read verse 6).
Faith, hope, and love are about spiritual maturity. Over time we are each invited to become a more “loving and lovable Christian” (MH 470).
Michael W. Campbell
Professor of Religion
Southwestern Adventist University
Keene, Texas USA