1 Corinthians 13
13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
This is the famous passage that is read at most weddings. Although its context is within the middle of Paul's teaching on the spiritual gifts, we can see how it could apply to marriage. Paul is pointing out to the Corinthians that they can exhibit all kinds of gifts of the Holy Spirit, but if they are not done in love, they are worthless. At the root of every spiritual gift is love. As Paul said, "Knowledge puffs up but love builds up!" I don't think Paul is knocking learning more or understanding the bible, but realizes that at the root of all truth is love. That is why he says in another context, "Speak the truth in love."
Our society's definition of love can be focused on feelings. Of course love creates feelings, but it is expressed in action. Paul gives a classic definition of love, as he defines it as mostly an action. He says, "Love is patient. Love is kind and it is not boastful. It always rejoices in truth, and never rejoices in wrongdoing." Notice all the action verbs. He concludes, "Love never fails!" It is good to note that the Greek word for love here is "agape". "Agape" love is the same sacrificial love gave us when he went to the cross. As we see Jesus' life, he is the best example of what true love is. Jesus always considered other's interests above his own. He emptied himself of pride and served others. Jesus loved his Father and lived out his life in communtion with him, which was the fuel for his life. God is love, so the only way we can show true love is to be in a relationship with Him and have His love flow through us in the power of the Holy Spirit.
And how do most people come to faith in Christ? By being told they are a sinnner, and they need to repent or else? No, they do so by experiencing the "unconditional love" of God in His Son, Jesus Christ. True love is expressed in God's free gift of His Son and the choice Jesus made to go to the cross for us and for our salvation. God's grace and unmerited favor alone can change a human heart. When we realize the depth of Jesus' life and death as it is rooted in love, it changes us from the inside out. And a Christian's love flows from the heart of Christ. How can we be patient, kind, not envying or boasting, and always making the best construction of other's behavior? By experiencing God's love despite all of our failings, and then extending this same love to others who require the same patience God has given us.
This is the Good News. This is what the world needs to see in order to realize the truth of the Christian faith and life! Though we see the worldly version of love failing all the time, God's sacrificial, unconditional love in Christ Jesus will never fail!