An awful lot of Christian couples have taken to incorporating 1st Corinthians chapter 13 in their marriage ceremony in one way or another. It’s the Love Chapter they say, and what is marriage about if not love? That in itself is cause for debate, but I also would challenge how this passage has been reduced, if you will, to being a ‘wedding thing’. We hear someone read or recite it, we think weddings. (I realize I’m making huge generalizations here.)
It is the love chapter. God is love. Literally. And I am to strive to be more like Christ (God) daily. Skimming over this chapter is not The Thing To Do if I want to know God. My pastor read this revamped version of chapter 13 (not meant to replace scripture, I assure you!) this morning, to give us all a fresh look at it. Growing up in the church or spending a great number of years in it does sometimes cause often-used passages of scripture to kind of become flat; you hear the words and they become an audial pattern, emphasis goes here and you raise the tone of your voice there and… wait, what did it just say?
And so, I give you: 1 Corinthians 13 Paraphrased. Read it slowly. Read it aloud and let the meaning sink in. Listen. See how this may apply to your life and let the Lord work in you, making you more like Himself.
“If I know the language perfectly and speak like a native, and have not God’s love for them, I am nothing.
If I have diplomas and degrees and know all the up-to-date methods, and have not His touch of understanding love, I am nothing.
If I am able to argue successfully against the religions of the people and make fools of them, and have not His wooing note, I am nothing.
Is I have all faith and great ideals and magnificent plans, and not His love that sweats and bleeds and weeps and prays and pleads, I am nothing.
If I give my clothes and money to them, and have not His love for them, I am nothing.
If I surrender all prospects, leave home and friends, make the sacrifices of a missionary career, and turn sour and selfish amid the daily annoyances and slights of a missionary life, and have not the love the yields its rights, its leisures, its pet plans, I am nothing. Virtue has ceased to go out of me.
If I can heal all manner of sickness and disease, but wound hearts and hurt feelings for want of His love that is kind, I am nothing.
If I can write articles or publish books that win applause, but fail to transcribe the Word of the Cross into the language of His love, I am nothing. “