I Corinthians 13

1If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

I コリント人への手紙 13

たとい、私が人の異言や、御使いの異言で話しても、愛がないなら、やかましいどらや、うるさいシンバルと同じです。 また、たとい私が預言の賜物を持っており、またあらゆる奥義とあらゆる知識とに通じ、また、山を動かすほどの完全な信仰を持っていても、愛がないなら、何の値うちもありません。 また、たとい私が持っている物の全部を貧しい人たちに分け与え、また私のからだを焼かれるために渡しても、愛がなければ、何の役にも立ちません。 愛は寛容であり、愛は親切です。また人をねたみません。愛は自慢せず、高慢になりません。 礼儀に反することをせず、自分の利益を求めず、怒らず、人のした悪を思わず、 不正を喜ばずに真理を喜びます。 すべてをがまんし、すべてを信じ、すべてを期待し、すべてを耐え忍びます。 愛は決して絶えることがありません。預言の賜物ならばすたれます。異言ならばやみます。知識ならばすたれます。 というのは、私たちの知っているところは一部分であり、預言することも一部分だからです。 10 完全なものが現われたら、不完全なものはすたれます。 11 私が子どもであったときには、子どもとして話し、子どもとして考え、子どもとして論じましたが、おとなになったときには、子どものことをやめました。 12 今、私たちは鏡にぼんやり映るものを見ていますが、その時には顔と顔とを合わせて見ることになります。今、私は一部分しか知りませんが、その時には、私が完全に知られているのと同じように、私も完全に知ることになります。 13 こういうわけで、いつまでも残るものは信仰と希望と愛です。その中で一番すぐれているのは愛です。

In the previous chapter, chapter 12, Paul writes about the various kinds of spiritual gifts.  There were some gifts that people deemed more important than the others, but Paul reminds the readers that all gifts are important to the body, the church. A body can only fully function when all the parts are doing their job and working together.  Just like each body part doing its part without trying to become a different body part, it is important for each member of the church to do the things that God commands them.

Going into chapter 13, Paul is leading us to the fact that there is something more important than the gifts that are mentioned in chapter 12 – love.

Language is a gift — The ability to speak/write well, the ability to speak/write well in multiple languages – But without love, it is just noise.

Prophetic powers and the ability to understand the many mysteries and having knowledge – All these are great things, but without love, they are nothing.

Having absolute faith in God – The type of faith that could move mountains – Is a wonderful thing, but it is nothing, without love.

So why is love so important that Paul teaches that it is greater than any of the other gifts?  What does Paul mean by love?  We can pretty much be certain that Paul is not talking about the intense version of “like”.  He describes what he means by love in vv. 4-7.

  • Love is patient
  • Love is kind
  • Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude
  • Love does not insist on its own way
  • It is not irritable or resentful
  • It does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth
  • Love bears all things
  • Love hopes all things
  • Love endures all things

In the last section, Paul explains why love is the greatest.  Love is the only thing that will endure to eternity.  Prophesies will no longer be needed since there will be no future in eternity.  The gift of tongues will also cease since there will no longer be the need to tell others about God’s love.  Knowledge will end since all will be revealed.

In Romans 5:6-10, Paul points out that it is the nature of humans that some might be willing to die for a good person, but it would be exceedingly rare.  But God demonstrated His love for humans by dying for us while we were still sinners.

If we have accepted Jesus Christ as our savior and lord, then we must take his commands and wishes seriously.  Jesus said that if we loved Him, we would obey Him. He commanded us to love God and love others.  He commanded us to love one another in the church so that others would know that we are Christians by seeing how we love each other.

Today, we are in sad times where even Christians are feeling dislike or even hatred for one another who don’t agree with our views, whether that be which politicians we agree with, whether to wear facial masks, or many other topics that are “hot” at the moment.

It seems that in the past, we were able to, or willing to, overlook disagreements in certain things and yet treat each other with civility and respect.  Today, it seems it is easier to “take our gloves off” and pummel each other with disrespectful, demeaning, and even hateful words.

The hot topic of Jesus’ day was whether Jesus was the long-awaited messiah or not.  Was He God’s son deserving of our love and respect, or was He a phony who deserved to die for what He taught?  Jesus went ahead and died for both sides.

The love the Father has for the world is a love that is hard for us to understand – Love that was willing to send his own child so that the child can be tortured and killed.  Yet, God did, and because of that, we have salvation and eternal life.

Jesus commands us to pick up our cross daily and follow Him.  Is it possible for us to love like God did?  It is, with the help of the Holy Spirit.

God has the right to command us to die for others, or to send our children into certain death, but thankfully, for most of us, He has not and will not.  But He commands us to show His love to others.

So, in these polarizing times, let us love God and show love to others, even to those with whom we do not agree.  It is possible that through this, others might see a love that is different and turn towards God.

(the above is a summary of the message brought to us by Shun Takano during our zoom worship time on October 11, 2020.)