If I could speak the tongues of angels and men,
But I spoke not with love, my words would be noise.
If I could preach and teach and understand all things,
But if I don’t have love, nothing I am.
Love is patient and kind, not jealous or rude;
Love is happy with the truth and forgives all wrongs and forgets.
If I had all the faith to make mountains move;
If I gave up my goods for show, not for love,
If I should sacrifice my body to be burned,
But if I don’t have love, nothing I am.
Love is eternal; love never fails.
All else is temporary, but love survives all things.
About This Song:
During the latter 1960s I heard a wonderful Sunday School lesson about 1 Corinthians 13–the “Love Chapter” of the Bible. What’s the last sermon or Bible study you still remember more than fifty years later?
Here’s the passage. . .
1 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. 2 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. 3 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.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love 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. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When 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 the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a 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.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (NIV)
As much as I, uh, love this passage, it’s always frustrated me. It describes perfect love. The kind I can never hope to attain completely.
No matter how much I love my wife or my daughter and her family or my stepdaughters, I can’t love them the way the apostle Paul describes in this chapter.
And maybe that’s the point.
God Himself is the living example of that kind of love. If I want to be more loving, I need to keep my eyes on Him–and to put love first in my life. No matter how well I might think I write novels and songs and take photographs and program web pages–even if I do those things in God’s name–those accomplishments are nothing compared to my ability to love others. Others including the unlovely and the unlovable.
Jesus died for people who hated Him. And for billions of people who hadn’t even been born yet. He loved them all.
I probably won’t have die for the sake of my enemies, but I can surely do a better job of loving the people my life touches.
How thankful I am that God loves me perfectly and wants me to learn to love Him–and other people–the same way.
What are your thoughts on perfect love? Please share a comment.
Free lead sheets (lyrics, tune, and chords) are available for many of my songs. Click on the Lead Sheets tab at the top of this page to see whether one is available for this song. Videos for many of my songs, some recorded at home and some at our church’s nursing home ministry, can be accessed at my website, RogerBruner.com, under the Listen tab.
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Links you might be interested in:
- Roger’s other blog, On Aging Gracelessly
- Roger’s website, RogerBruner.com
- Roger’s free Christian lead sheets
- Roger’s books on Amazon