1 Corinthians 13-14, Psalm 147
In the year 1647, during England's Civil War, a deserter in Cromwell's army was captured and brought before him. "When the curfew bell sounds tonight, you shall be executed," said the general. But that night, the curfew bell was not heard. Upon investigation, it was discovered that, receiving news of her fiance's sentence, his betrothed made her way quickly to the camp and hid in the bell tower. As curfew neared, she positioned herself within the bell in such a way that when the rope was pulled, the clapper hit her body rather than the inside of the bell. Seeing the bruised and battered lady standing before him, Cromwell was so deeply touched by her love that the soldier's life was spared. As we reflect on the words in 1 Corinthians 13, which we have all heard spoken so often at weddings, may we realize just how far we are from what is described, and may it humble us.
After describing how empty the most powerful gifts are in the church without love in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, he goes on to describe that perfect love. In 13:4-8, Paul says, "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails...". In the Greek language there are 4 words for love: Storgi which means affection like you would have for a pet; Eros which refers to sexual, physical love; Phileo which refers to brotherly love; and Agape which is an unconditional love which gives simply for the sake of giving, never expecting anything in return. This section in 1 Corinthians 13 refers to Agape love. In the original Bible there were no chapters or verses. Though this section is often used as that love between a man and a woman, this chapter flows from the section on Spiritual gifts. So, this section more accurately reflects the marriage between the gifts of the Spirit with the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control...".).Without this marriage between our gifts and the fruits of the Spirit, these gifts can prove ineffective or harmful.
The word, "love", has been hijacked and used for anything and everything. The same word is used for the relationship between a man and a wife, our relationship with God, and our feelings for pizza and nachos. In the popular 1970 movie, "Love Story", the famous quote, which was popularized was, "Love means never having to say you're sorry". This makes no sense, but the reality of love has been destroyed through the centuries. But true love was exemplified by Jesus Christ. Going back to the original story above, Jesus Christ climbed not a bell tower, but the hill of Calvary in order that you and I would be spared the execution we so rightfully deserve. The love that Jesus showed us, the love we are to extend to one another was modeled for us on the cross, by Jesus. So, when we hear this portion of Scripture, may we be humbled realizing how far we are from that perfect love shown by our Savior, Jesus Christ. May we move forward each day clinging to Him and allowing ourselves to be transformed by the Holy Spirit to become more like Him.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: