If I speak in the tongues of men and angels,
but have not love,
I have become sounding brass or a tinkling symbol.
And if I have prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains,
but have not love, I am nothing.
And if I dole out all my goods, and
if I deliver my body that I may boast
but have not love, nothing I am profited.
Love is long suffering,
love is kind,
it is not jealous,
love does not boast,
it is not inflated.
It is not discourteous,
it is not selfish,
it is not irritable,
it does not enumerate the evil.
It does not rejoice over the wrong, but rejoices in the truth
It covers all things,
it has faith for all things,
it hopes in all things,
it endures in all things.
Love never falls in ruins;
but whether prophecies, they will be abolished; or
tongues, they will cease; or
knowledge, it will be superseded.
For we know in part and we prophecy in part.
But when the perfect comes, the imperfect will be superseded.
When I was an infant,
I spoke as an infant,
I reckoned as an infant;
when I became an adult,
I abolished the things of the infant.
For now we see through a mirror in an enigma, but then face to face.
Now I know in part, but then I shall know as also I was fully known.
But now remains
faith, hope, love,
but the greatest of these is love.
–1 Corinthians 13:1-13
What is Christian love? Is it a feeling or a way of life? According to Matthew’s Gospel, the very essence of the Law and the Prophets is to love God and to love others.
But for most of us, love is a process of selection. We pick and choose how and who to love based on an anticipated response or expectation. Our effort is extended based on return. If we don’t get what we expect, we decide not to love, or worse, we pretend to “love from a distance”. In reality, we never did truly love.
But the word “agape” (God’s Love) is meant to communicate an unselfish and unconditional love. The best we can transliterate it to is “charity”, but without properly defining charity, it seems to have lost some of its flavor.
If we are really honest with ourselves, we have to acknowledge that we give preferential love to those that are the most lovable. This is antithetical to what Jesus taught. Jesus didn’t seem to care too much about one’s position in life, monetary situation, appearance, or political correctness.
If we can learn to see each other as children of God, created the way He wanted, where He wanted, and how He wanted, and look past what society thinks of as lovable, we may start to live an authentic Christian life. Until then, we are simply hypocrites.
Love is always bestowed as a gift – freely, willingly and without expectation. We don’t love to be loved; we love to love.
– Leo Buscaglia