I am currently reading through several books amongst others Alpha Questions for Life by Nicky Gumbel.
In this book Gumbel tells the story of a woman that promised herself to read 1 Corinthians 13 everyday, in which Paul explains so beautifully what love and what the importance of love is.
1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If 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 have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8Love 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. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When 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 childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor 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.
13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Time and time I am captured amazed by the beauty of these writings.
Now the lady Nicky Gumbel speaks about decides that she would replace ‘love’ by ‘I’ and stop as soon as she came across a description she did not make. Hopefully she would one day be able to tick off all the descriptions.
I have found on many occasions that replacing the Bible really starts to speak to me when I make things personal. As an example,read the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20 v1-17) and see how they provide you with a clear picture on what you will become or aim to become if you replace the “you” with “I”.
- I shall have no other Gods before Him
- I will not make or have idols
- I will not misuse his name
- I will remember the Sabbath by keeping it Holy and will not work on it.
- I will honor my father and mother
- I will not murder
- I will not commit adultery
- I will not steal
- I will not give false testimony
- I will not covet
What a beautiful promise he commandments become.
Or try this with the Lord’s prayer of Matthew 6: 9-13.
My Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name (by me)
your Kingdom come,
I will do your will as your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give me today my daily bread.
Forgive me my debts,
as I have also forgiven my debtors.
And lead me not into temptation,
but deliver me from the evil one,
for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory.
To me the prayer speaks differently when the generic “us” is replaced by I and all of a sudden I commit myself very personally to doing His will, all of a sudden the confession of sin becomes personal and is no longer a vague ‘us’ but a personal acknowledgment that I am a sinner that needs forgiveness, all of a sudden God‘s provision becomes very personal and all of a sudden it is very clear that “we” are not just tempted by evil and in need of deliverance in general as a humanity but personally.
And so it is with the sixteen descriptions of love in 1 Corinthians 13 when you make them personal. What a guide for life they become:
- I am patient
- I am kind
- I do not envy
- I do not boast
- I am not proud
- I am not rude
- I am not self-seeking
- I am not easily angered
- I keep no record of wrongs
- I do not delight in evil
- rejoice in truth
- I always protect
- I always trust
- I always hope
- I always persevere
- I never fail
There is only one sad things about this checklist: So far I never made it past point one: love is patient. What about you?