Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thursday Thirteen: What Is Love?

It sounds like kind of a corny question: What is love?

Real love is different from the usual, common ol’ ordinary, everyday love. It is different from “luv” that we see splayed out in movies and on TV. It is not the same thing as desire—or sex. In a time when half of all marriages end in divorce, we could use some real love.

How do I know what real love is? I learned it from First Corinthians 13, which has thirteen verses. The writer is Paul, who understood love because he learned it from God, who is love. Here’s what he says, in the modern-day language of The New International Readers Version:

(1) Suppose I speak in the languages of human beings and of angels. If I don't have love, I am only a loud gong or a noisy cymbal. (2) Suppose I have the gift of prophecy. Suppose I can understand all the secret things of God and know everything about him. And suppose I have enough faith to move mountains. If I don't have love, I am nothing at all. (3) Suppose I give everything I have to poor people. And suppose I give my body to be burned. If I don't have love, I get nothing at all.

(4) Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not want what belongs to others. It does not brag. It is not proud. (5) It is not rude. It does not look out for its own interests. It does not easily become angry. It does not keep track of other people's wrongs.

(6) Love is not happy with evil. But it is full of joy when the truth is spoken. (7) It always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. It never gives up.

(8) Love never fails. But prophecy will pass away. Speaking in languages that had not been known before will end. And knowledge will pass away.

(9) What we know now is not complete. What we prophesy now is not perfect. (10) But when what is perfect comes, the things that are not perfect will pass away.

(11) When I was a child, I talked like a child. I thought like a child. I had the understanding of a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

(12) Now we see only a dim likeness of things. It is as if we were seeing them in a mirror. But someday we will see clearly. We will see face to face. What I know now is not complete. But someday I will know completely, just as God knows me completely.

(13) The three most important things to have are faith, hope and love. But the greatest of them is love.

That's what real love is. Is your love like that? Is mine?

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