Certain gradual transformation. 1 Corinthians 13: 8-13

This is part 2 of three parts. Find part 1 here. The last section will post on Monday.

We are all very, painfully, familiar with the idea that love never fails. When our dear ones pass away, a spouse, mother, sibling, our child, we know that the love we shared for that person does not die away. That love continues on, it does not fail.

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. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 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. 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. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:8-13 NIV)

But prophecies and tongues and knowledge may pass away – when love is not present. We must love first, then these gifts will follow, otherwise they will fall away.

Right now we are on that transformational journey in which we are being formed into the people that God made us to be. We are there, but not completely. The journey in the Holy Spirit leads us to the completion and the maturity that Paul talks about there. Completeness comes and what is in part disappears. Childhood must be put away and maturity takes its place – this completeness and fullness in Christ is what makes us more closely love the way that Christ loves us.

The more we learn to love as Christ loves – moving ourselves along that journey, the more gifts we will see: the fruits of the spirit and the gifts of prophecy, tongues, and knowledge. Now we are still distracted by the self and selfish desires that we see when we look in the mirror. The mirror is a mere reflection of what we actually are and can be in Him, in His love. The focus on self and all that causes envy, unkindness and self-seeking are preventing us from seeing each other as we really are. But, as we mature and look beyond the image of ourselves in the mirror, we see the real people beside us. We manifest Love for our neighbor. Love which is stagnant and bottled inside cannot be any of the characteristics listed in verses 4-7. Those characteristics require us to interact with others in order to show. Love unshared and undemonstrated has no effect.

This is not about lovable or unlovable. This is not about what I feel like. This is about putting on the cloak of Christ and choosing to set aside self and live as He lived, love as He loved. We have love. We can act it out, live love, because he has transformed us, is transforming us and will transform us into His image. When we mature, we look beyond the image of ourselves in the mirror and we manifest love to our neighbor.

Lastly- how is love the greatest? Love is what motivated God the Father to send His only Son to die for us. Love was the sacrifice and the reconciliation. So, it is in love that faith and hope now stand. Without faith, we cannot know the God of love; without hope, we would not endure in our faith until we meet him face to face.

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This is not about lovable or unlovable. This is not about what I feel like.

This is about putting on the cloak of Christ and choosing to set aside self and live as He lived, love as He loved.

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® and NIV® are registered trademarks of Biblica, Inc. Use of either trademark for the offering of goods or services requires the prior written consent of Biblica US, Inc.