2nd September 2018

I’ll Say It Again

“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.”
1 Corinthians 13:8 (NIV UK)

Recently I was listening again to one of my favourite historical speeches, the one made by Winston Churchill following the rescue of the British Army from Dunkirk in 1940. Here’s the most famous part: “…we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…”

When speakers really want to drive home a point, they use repetition, just as Churchill. This occurs several times in the Bible, and one of my favourites is 1 Corinthians 13, the “Love Chapter.” In it, Paul says the same thing, a few different ways. “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” (Verse 1).

Paul says that if you don’t have love, nothing you say will matter. A golden tongue can certainly get you far in life in some respects, but if it’s not speaking with love, that golden tongue is just noise to God. Paul goes on: “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge…but do not have love, I am nothing” (Verse 2).

Paul repeats himself here, but changes the verb. Now, he’s saying that if you don’t have love, nothing you know will matter. He even goes as far as to cover prophecy! Literally, you could be able to predict the future—but without love, it wouldn’t matter. “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” (Verse 3). Finally, he takes it straight to the heart, telling his audience that without love, nothing you give will matter—not even your own body.

All that repetition communicates Paul’s point very effectively: that the most important thing in the world to God, is love. Without it, nothing that we say, know, or do, will matter in the long run. And while that can seem like a tall order, we have only to look to our Lord Jesus for inspiration. By embodying God’s love in every thought, word, and deed, he was able to live a life that truly mattered: one that ensured our eternal salvation!

Prayer
Gracious Father, you know us so well (as our creator). Help us to understand you better, and so to draw nearer and nearer in thought and action—and that includes putting love to the foremost of what we are. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen

Study by Greg Williams

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About the Author:
Greg Williams is Vice President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in North Carolina, USA.

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