1 Corinthians 13:13
Love—the excellency of heaven! Was it not out of this very germ came the creation? Love was the beginning of all things, and love will rush in and throb out the final climax of all.
It seems, in order to show us how mistaken we can be in our judgment of our spiritual standing, that God reveals in the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians a case of gems of highest worth—all that the heart could desire for this world—and shows that, while possessing so much, we can miss all.
In this case we find, first, the gem of oratory. Who could look upon it and not be impressed with its mighty value? “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels” (1 Corinthians 13:1 KJV). What an overwhelming attraction there is in this supposition! Could a heart carry a burning theme and not covet that gift most fitted to voice its claims? Where God has thrown in a gifted tongue—skilled in swaying the mind as sky winds the foliage of the forest—convincing, convicting, converting the people by power of speech?
“Tongues of angels”—the tenderness of persuasion, fervency of entreaty, force of eloquence, depth of compassion of an angel’s tongue. But while even so much possessing, if the one crown jewel of love be missing, then in the ears of God all the outward sounding has but the echoing emptiness, coldness and hardness of beaten brass, the irritation of battering cymbals. You can talk love without having it; you can expound its priceless beauties, with its rightful place in your heart filled with self.
We draw from our case our next treasure—the gift of knowledge. None but fools would think lightly of a gift so priceless. How much more to be treasured than wealth or sought for than fame. Its pursuit has made thousands oblivious to poverty or pain. But the Bible tells us that knowledge, grand and mighty as it is, without love, is nothing. To compare knowledge with love you may as well expect the raindrops to rival the ocean. One “vanishes away,” the other is immortal.
We thrust our hands deeper into the case and draw from its clustering gems the pearl of sacrifice. “And though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3 KJV). I could never say it, my pen dare not write it, were these not the words of Bible record. Only those offerings springing from the burning promptings of that love which to live must give, that in giving reckons not on gain, can bring eternal profit to the giver.
“God so loved the world” (John 3:16). This victorious power, this golden coronet for which there is no tarnish, this invincible force—Love—conquers all.
Evangeline Booth, Love Is All