Our learning how to be loved by God and loving others with His love is the only thing we’ll ever do that will last in the end. All our other life pursuits will ultimately be found to be insignificant by comparison. This is the implication that Paul makes at the end of chapter 13 of his first letter to the Corinthians. You may think other things are as important. I did for most of my life, too…but I was wrong.
I went into what love actually looks like in my last post. Today, I want to continue on Paul’s line of argument at the end 1 Corinthians 13:
9 Our present knowledge and our prophecies are but partial, 10 but when love’s perfection arrives, the partial will fade away. (1 Cor.13:9 TPT*)
12 For now we see but a faint reflection of riddles and mysteries as though reflected in a mirror, but one day we will see face-to-face. My understanding is incomplete now, but one day I will understand everything, just as everything about me has been fully understood. 13 Until then, there are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love—yet love surpasses them all. So above all else, let love be the beautiful prize for which you run. (1 Cor.13:12-13 TPT*)
These are some one of the most remarkable statements made in the New Testament. Paul is telling us that when love’s perfection arrives, when we finally have full understanding, everything else we thought important will fade like fog giving way to the morning light. We will finally see that there’s nothing more important than love—not faith, not hope, but love.
We still need faith now because we don’t see all of reality. Our relationship with the God who holds all existence together is by faith. We still see in riddles and mystery, believing what we don’t normally experience with our natural senses. Today, we still hope for all the promises of God to be fulfilled. But when we finally do see God face-to-face, we’ll no longer need to walk by faith, and all our hopes will be fully realized!
10 but when love’s perfection arrives, the partial will fade away.
Yes, the only thing that will remain is love, but the implications of this truth are far more stunning. This means that all my seeking and searching in this life now, everything I think is so important now, if it’s not related to this love is a futile waste of time. For all those things I think are so important now will not remain.
This means that to the degree I believe other pursuits are more important than this love is the degree to which I still live in ignorance. I’m still missing the mark, my highest calling, the ultimate prize. I would still be doing nothing more than grasping the wind…because I have not fully realized love.
Learning how to receive God’s love, returning it back to Him, and loving others with His love is the ultimate goal of our existence. This is why John 15:9-12 are my life verses. I have come to realize that everything else I look for to find purpose and meaning in this life is ultimately fleeting and empty…because only love will remain.
Does this mean all I do is sit around thinking about love, love, love? No. It means everything that you and I do must have, as its motive, other-centered, self-giving love. I must compare all my efforts in this life—how I conduct myself in all my relationships—to the attributes I talked about last time.
Even our use of spiritual gifts and purpose for meeting together as God’s family must be for the benefit of others.
26 Beloved friends, what does all this imply? When you conduct your meetings, you should always let everything be done to build up the church family. Whether you share a song of praise, a teaching, a divine revelation, or a tongue and interpretation, let each one contribute what strengthens others. (1 Cor.14:26 TPT*)
Any other motive for doing anything I do is missing the whole point of it all.
This has been the one message—from Genesis to Revelation. Love God and love others the way God loves us. This is all the Law and Prophets fulfilled.
37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and great commandment.39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt.22:37-40 NKJV*)
12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matt.7:12 NKJV*)
12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:12 NKJV*)
All of my life work must be for the benefit of love. Every action I take must be from a place of “doing unto others as I would want done to me.”
Beloved, you cannot take anything else with you in the end—your success, your money, your accomplishments, or anything else you think is so important.
All you and I will have is what we did with love. So “let love be the beautiful prize for which you run.”