If you are keeping up with your Daily Bible Reading, and are using the wonderful tool from F. LaGard Smith, The Daily Bible, let me first of all say, “Well done!!” I must admit, I started with great intentions at the beginning of the year, made it through much of the year, then got bogged down and behind in the summer. I started up again in October with the great story of Esther and have stayed with it though the end of the Old Testament and into the gospels, in addition to reading through the gospels an extra time in these last few months of 2011.
One of the great things about the discipline of daily reading is that you are challenged by reading familiar passages in the original context of the whole book. I thought of that especially as I was reading through 1 Corinthians 13. Reading that great “love chapter” outside of a wedding ceremony setting, and in the midst of the important issues and real problems of the very human church at Corinth, we are reminded once again how hard it is to actively, genuinely, love one another.
So it is little wonder that Jesus tied this command to the greatest command of loving God, as if they could not be separated. (Mark 12:28-34) It is little wonder that the Lord said that this is how people will know that we are His disciples, if we love one another. (John 13:35) It is little wonder that Jesus and “the disciple whom Jesus loved” told us that we are to love each other as Christ has loved us. (John 13:34; 1 John 4:11) And we are told in several places in Scripture that the law is fulfilled if we love one another. (Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:13-14; James 2:8; etc.)
How important is this? Let’s hear Paul’s answer: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 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 have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
And here is how love calls us to act and what love calls us to do in very practical, daily, ongoing, sometimes difficult situations: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)