First Corinthians 13 is one of the most well-known passages in the Bible. It is often quoted, yet seldom comprehended. It is routinely read at weddings but is soon forgotten.
Hollywood only shows passionate, romantic love. Friends talk about having warm feelings toward each other. Yet the type of love that Paul is describing in this passage is far greater than any emotions-based love.
Agape love is a self-giving and self-sacrificing love. The focus is not on how we feel about the other person, but on how we can give of ourselves in love. Agape love has no room for pride, vanity, arrogance, or selfish desires.
Agape love is a self-giving and self-sacrificing love.
Without this kind of love, any accomplishment, activity, or relationship we have is in vain. Paul describes the futility of loveless action:
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. 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. 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. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
Proclaiming the Truth of God is nothing without love. Immense knowledge is worthless without love. Whatever we do—even if it is in the name of God—is meaningless if it is not motivated by agape love. We must "[d]o everything in love" (1 Corinthians 16:14).
Prayer: God, I pray that my motivation for all I do would be agape love. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Do everything in love" (1 Corinthians 16:14).