After last week’s article about how challenging love can be, I reread the love chapter in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13. And as I was reading, it was as if the Lord was pointing out something I had never thought about before. Specifically, it had to do with this passage:
“Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10 [NKJV]).
And specifically, it had to do with the phrase, “Love never fails.”
Have you ever tried to motivate someone to do something you wanted them to do? Perhaps to help you with a project? Or accompany you on an assignment? If you’re an employer, you probably understand the challenge.
You can try coercion. You can try threatening. You can even try tempting. There are those who have spent their lives developing theories in behavioral psychology on concepts of motivation, such as positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, and punishment.
But the Bible says, “Love never fails.”
I want to share with you, Dear Reader, how the Lord taught me the power of love, but I must tell you a little about me first. I was raised in a patriarchal-influenced environment. Not that my father or grandfather treated their spouses badly; both exemplified the love of Christ towards their mates. It was more like I was a product of the era.
I can remember Sunday dinners after church at my grandparents’ house. My grandfather would sit at the head of the table while my grandmother and mother prepared the feast. I took my cues from him and sat, as well. Full disclosure: My father was typically helping my grandmother and mother. He would set the table or “fix” the tea, as they called it. Us kids kept out of the way.
Anyway, when my wife and I first got married, we moved into a little house on Park Street in Athens. She had been living with her parents in Harriman and I had been living in Kingston. However, I thought it prudent to move to Athens so I could be near the church I was attending. I was adamant that she should attend with me, but being new to the area and knowing so few people at the church, she had no enthusiasm to go. I tried fussing at her. I tried making her feel guilty. I tried numerous ways to get her to go.
Finally, I heard the Lord through this verse, “Love never fails.”
So, I stopped trying to coerce her. I stopped bugging her. I stopped condemning her. I just decided to love her. Eventually, she started accompanying me all on her own. Love was the weapon that worked. And it works every time.
However, in this world, in this physical existence, not everything will last as it is. If prophecies will fail and tongues will cease and knowledge will vanish away, what hope do our political systems have?
As Godly as some think capitalism is, it can be corrupted through greed.
Our money bears the motto, “In God We Trust.”
Yet many trust in money and know nothing about God. Capitalism will only work when it is based on the golden rule.
And I don’t mean, “He who has the gold gets to make the rules.”
I mean what Jesus said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31).
There are those in our society promoting the ideals of socialism, which in a perfect world seems to be a great system of governance.
“From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” as Karl Marx put it.
Some will argue that even the early disciples of Jesus lived in a communistic Utopia: “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need” (Acts 2:44-45 [NKJV]).
Unfortunately, take love out of the equation and the motivation to help one’s neighbor begins to wane. Matter of fact, if you think you will be provided food, shelter, or clothing regardless of how much or how little effort you put into it, the incentive for doing your best will diminish. I suspect that’s what happened to the early church.
Years later, the Apostle Paul had to admonish them, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
Allow me to ask it again, if prophecies will fail and tongues will cease and knowledge will vanish away, what hope do our political systems have?
Dear Reader, while you may favor one form of government over another, keep in mind they will fail. Trusting in one or the other can only be vanity of vanities as the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem once wrote (reference Ecclesiastes 1:1-3). Only love will last, but after all, it is the greatest thing.
As the Apostle Paul put it, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Tim Hughes is a lay minister and elder at Ascension Life Church in Athens. He can be reached at email@example.com