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Grown Up Love That Lasts

1 Corinthians 13:8-12
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. (NIVUK)

'Love never fails' is a very strong statement. It stands alongside, 'The Word of the Lord stands forever' (1 Peter 1:25). God, His character, His Word, His love are indestructible (1 Timothy 1:17). But everything we see in our world will fail. The bodies of plants, animals and humans die; political leaders and their power come and go; buildings crumble and landscapes erode. Everything in this world is temporary, including the world itself. Even churches and ministries arise and some decline. But nothing can destroy divinely inspired love.
Although God's people are all given some spiritual gifts, these are simply tools with which we serve the Lord: but they are no longer needed when the job is done. When we see the Lord face to face we will not need His messages or signs of His power because we will know Him and be eternally satisfied in His presence. Until then we are incomplete and immature. We only see a little and even our best service is tinged with mixed motives.
The wisest people know that they know very little and realise that they fail to use that information wisely all the time. Our understanding of God's ways is so limited. So why did the Corinthian church boast of their gifts, exalt one leader over another (1 Corinthians 1:11-12), and defile the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:20-22)? They were far more spiritually immature than they realised … that is the problem with immaturity. The believers needed to be taught how little they understood God's purposes and how fragile and fickle was their love for God … and so do we.
It is not so much what we do which counts with God, but why we do it. He knows all our immaturity: after all He is our Father who knows us through and through. But He wants us to grow up spiritually (1 Peter 2:2); to leave behind arrogance and boasting, bitterness and evil desires … and learn to receive and share God's love (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). It is no credit to our Heavenly Father if we fail in patience or kindness, so we need to put aside our ambitions and grow up by learning to serve God in love like Jesus did. That kind of love will never fade away.

Father God. Thank You for this teaching, encouraging me to grow up spiritually. I am sorry when I have behaved as a selfish child, treating Your gifts as my toys; failing to honour You or other believers as I should. Please help me to use 1 Corinthians 13:1-10 as a check-list to identify the areas of my immaturity, and teach me how to love like You do. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams