Daily posts to help you connect with God
and keep yourself travelling in the right orbit
ORBIT | WEEK THIRTEEN
ORBIT – DAY FIFTY NINE
Hello and welcome to week thirteen of Orbit – the daily devotional from the youth team at St Mary’s Reigate. Each weekday we give you a little bit of the Bible to think about, and a practical way to apply it to everyday life. At the moment we’re looking at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, and you join us today as we look at one of the most famous passages in the whole Bible.
BIBLE READING – 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
What else is there to say about a passage that may have been preached on more than any other? If you’ve been to a wedding, you have almost certainly heard these words read. They seem to provide a noble blueprint for love and marriage; patience, kindness, not feeling envy or getting angry.
If you are ever the bride or groom at a wedding where these words are read, then you’ll probably find them inspiring: a high ideal to which you might hope to hold yourself as you embark on married life. However, if you ever sit in the congregation at a wedding, perhaps as a married person, then you might regard these words rather differently… The truth is that no marriage – however good – really looks like this. Husbands and wives are human beings, and however much they love each other, no-one can ever live up to this standard.
But of course they can’t – because this isn’t a human standard! Paul isn’t describing human love here – he’s unpacking the love of God. And while that’s something we can aspire to – a sort of ultimate role model for human love – it’s not something that we can fully replicate.
Once we’ve slightly detached this passage from its usual context then, we can allow it to speak to us in a new way. It’s perhaps even helpful to insert the word God’s, every time we read the word love. Like this:
“God’s love is patient, God’s love is kind. He does not envy, He does not boast, he is not proud. God’s love does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. God’s love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Doesn’t that feel very different? It goes from being an impossible list of things we need to achieve to be good partners, to an incredible description of how God feels about and treats us!
Of course, the Christian life is all about becoming more like Jesus, and so naturally we should want to aspire to these things too. But that’s very different to imagining that perfect love can only exist through us. Perfect love is what God feels for and demonstrates to us – and our attempts to love him, other people and even ourselves are just a natural response to receiving his love.
You might want to join me in praying this prayer.
Lord God I thank you that you love me – perfectly, completely, unconditionally. I pray that I would know your love deep in the core of my being – and that you would kindle love in me for others, myself and you as a response. Amen
There’s now a chance for you to pray, or listen to God, or simply be still for a few moments.
Each day we will provide you with a simple challenge; something to do which helps you put this little thought into action. Here’s today’s challenge:
Take a look at the list of attributes which Paul lists about God’s love – his patience, kindness, slowness to anger and so on. Which of these have you never really appreciated about God before? Which is missing from your picture of him? Ask God to show you that aspect of his character today, and then be on the lookout for how he might choose to surprise you with the answer to that prayer.
If you want to get in touch, you can always email firstname.lastname@example.org, or message us on Instagram – we’re @stmarys_satellites. Let us know what you think of this daily reflection – please – we’d love your feedback.
We’ll be back with another edition of Orbit tomorrow. Thanks for taking part today!