1 Corinthians 13
13 If I speak in the tongues[a] 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,[b] 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.
What kind of literature is this? 1 Corinthians is an epistle, a letter to Christians in the city of Corinth. Chapter 13 is presented as prose, but reads more like a poem, or perhaps a hymn.
What did it mean when it was written? The city of Corinth was both a port/trade center and a center for the worship of the fertility goddess. It was city that equated love with sex. Chapter 13 is a radical new definition of love: Love is to be about giving yourself away.
Who am I in the story? It is usually easy to know who you are when reading an epistle: You are the one Paul is writing to. So if you live your life without love, you are living an empty life. We must examine our conduct to see if we are doing the giving of love and not doing the selfish acts that destroy love.
Where is God in the story? God is the one who is teaching us the way of love. He is the one who is love and who lives out all these teachings.
Why is this in the Bible? Chapter 13 shows me a superior way of life. It is primarily directed to the church, to teach Jesus followers how to believe.
What is God saying to me? Ask for a heart that loves like this!