When I awoke one morning, after writing about the love that I share with My Dear Wife, the previous evening, I was immediately thinking about the love verses of First Corinthinians Chapter 13. As I was on my way to meet with my prayer partners, I did not have time to meditate on them. However, when I got to the chapel, I was alone, and there was a Bible sitting at hand. I took a few minutes by myself to read the verses of this biblical chapter, and realised that much of what I have been pondering about love lately was contained therein.
In my earlier days, I knew a lot of scripture, and could quote from the Bible, reasonably at will. Heck, I could quote the love verses of Corinthians by heart. But, though the verses were in my head, they were not really in my heart.
But, somewhere in these last few years, I have realised (I mean really REALISED, not just realised) that My Dear Wife is a blessing to me, and rather than trying to have a relationship where I primarily looked out for number 1, and gave what was left over to her, and to others in my life, I have been ever so slowly coming to the deep understanding that "Love wasn't put in your heart to stay. Love isn't love till you give it away."
The problem that I had with the love verses below, particularly verses 4-8 was that I always looked at my wife and others and saw where they were impatient, unkind, or failing (in my opinion). I was not looking in the mirror to see that I was really impatient, unkind, or failing.
I do not know what changed for me, or how it came about really. I do know that it was grace from God, but aside from a desire to do better, and to be better, I did not make it happen to me. It was a free gift. The only thing I have done regarding this free gift was asking for it, and then accepting it.
In typical God fashion, the gift I was asking for does not look like the gift I received. I was asking for scraps, and God gave me abundance.
A long time ago now, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, and began to be able to operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit that are bestowed on us at our Confirmation. I prayed in tongues, spoke words of prophecy that came to me, had faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. I did these things, and thought "What a good boy am I". I gave to the poor. I prayed a lot, and blah, blah, blah.
Along the way, I lost, or gave up on my earlier marriage. I may not have been alone in hurting the marriage, but I was too busy looking at what my former wife was doing wrong, impatience, unkindness, envy to see that the Kingdom was a reflection of the King, and no one was more guilty than me. Had I really loved her, would things have been different?
I cannot say for certain, but as I look at the deteriorating marriage of an acquaintance of mine, I want to tell her and her husband to step back from the abyss, before it is too late.
Here is the particular chapter from the NIV version of the Bible:
1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
2If 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.
3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
9For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.