Love Never Fails
Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 13:4-13
Love never fails. And you and I should be very glad for that! I suspect you’ve been challenged as we’ve journeyed daily considering these various aspects of Christ-like love. I have! In too many ways and on too many occasions I’ve failed to measure up to Jesus’ lofty standard. And while I’ve sometimes failed to love as I should, God’s love never fails.
What is meant by this phrase “love never fails?” The ESV reads “love never ends” and that’s a better way to understand what’s being said. Agape love will never cease. In the ages to come we will be eternally loved by God. We will still love Him and we will still love one another. Love never ends because it is an attribute of God, and God is love. His love endures forever.
This enduring aspect of love stands in contrast to the temporal role of the spiritual gifts we have received. Recall that the context of this passage was the malpractice of the believers in Corinth with respect to their gifts. They were devaluing some gifts and some were using their gifts to bring attention to themselves, obviously not practicing them in love and for the building up of the body.
They were enamored with their gifts, whereas they needed to be enamored with love. God has gifted His church with spiritual gifts, and each of us should exercise them “by the strength that God supplies…that in everything God might be glorified” (1 Peter 4:10-11). But though the gifts are important, the time will come when they will no longer be needed. Spiritual gifts were imparted for the building up of the body, but when Jesus comes that work will cease.
The believers in Corinth were being childish. You’ve seen how children are prone to fight over toys. They were acting like that. So Paul admonished them. It was time for them to grow up! They needed to stop thinking and acting like children. They needed to act like grown ups. Spiritual maturity reveals itself in a Christlike manner of thinking and living–and that looks like love.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Paul used this similar imagery in 2 Corinthians 3:18, where he spoke of the Spirit’s transforming work in our lives: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into that same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” We struggle now to clearly see the glory of our destiny. The “breadth and length and height and depth” of the love of Christ “surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19). But the day is soon coming when He will appear and “we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). The fullness of Him–and His love–will be unveiled to us and in us! Until that day, it is our prayer and goal and pursuit to be like Him. And that means, in part, that we are learning to love like Jesus!
Phil Ryken, “Anyone who has read and studied 1 Corinthians 13 should have some idea what it would look like to live in the headlong pursuit of love. It means being patient with other people’s failings! It means being kind to people, even when they don’t seem to deserve it. It means not promoting ourselves, or boasting about our accomplishments, or insisting on having our own way. It means making less of ourselves and more of others. It means forgiving people when they hurt us and refusing to get angry when they irritate us. It means believing the best truth about other people, not the worst falsehood. It means even in the most desperate circumstances, we are able to keep believing, keep hoping, and keep loving.”
Pursue Love. For It’ll Never End!
Father. How very glad we are that the measure of Your love is too deep for us to comprehend! And thank You for loving us with a love that never ceases. Forgive us, Lord, for we are so prone to devote our time and energy to spurious things. Even as we’ve set our hearts to know You better, may we be ever growing in the knowledge of Your love. Been rooted and grounded in Your love, may Your presence in us fill up every part of our being. That we might love like You. Until that day when You appear, and we shall see You as You are, and what is lacking in us will be swept away. But love will never end. In Jesus’ Name. Amen!