Sometimes loving one another seems like such an impossible task! Paul gives us some great advice for loving one another when we are struggling to see eye to eye. There are three things that Paul shares with the people of Corinth that can inspire you and I to love.
First of all, Paul understood that love comes with an understanding that we don’t have all the truth. When people don’t agree with us we tend to get angry because we think we know “the truth.” We know the right thing to do and we want things to go our way. I love it when Paul says, when I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child, but when I grew up I put away my childish ways.
I think back to when I was a teenager and I knew the truth; I knew what was right! Life seemed black and white, but as you become an adult you begin to realize life isn’t always so simple and straightforward. We begin to realize that, maybe, we don’t have all of the truth! How many adults out there do you think have never put away their “childish ways” and continue to believe that they have all the truth?
Secondly, I think Paul was trying to help the people of Corinth to understand what he knew to be true about not having all the truth. He was telling them, “You can’t say speaking in tongues is better than not speaking in tongues, or eating meat sacrificed to idols is worse than not, you can’t say that. Know what you believe but you don’t have all the truth. I’m asking you to see Christ in the face of others, understanding that our knowledge is imperfect and our knowledge will pass away. We don’t know all things. And if you do that, then Christ will use you to share his love where you are now.” Paul would acknowledge the struggle and division while reminding them to abide by faith, hope and love; with the greatest being love.
Third, Paul would say, it really is about us. Love is about seeing the face of Christ in other people and treating everyone with dignity and respect. Even those who look different, even those who think different. We can disagree but we can still treat each other with love, dignity and respect. When I was a child I thought like a child, I spoke like a child, I reasoned like a child, but when I became a man I gave up my childish ways. You know one of the things I see in children is how they constantly compare themselves with others. Adults are guilty of this, too. We make comparisons and put others down in an attempt to build ourselves up and then we argue with one another! We separate ourselves into different camps, the in crowd and the out crowd and we feel superior to those who are different. The people in Corinth were saying I speak in tongues; God obviously loves me more than he loves you. I’m better than you. I don’t eat meat sacrificed to an idol; you succumbed. I’m better than you. Paul tells them that they are being childish. We’re called to know that God loves all of us; to see Christ in the face of others, not to be divided, but to stand, united because love never ends. And if you know the love of Christ, God will use you to share love with one another. God will use you to deliver a word of encouragement, a hug or a smile, to bring a sense of healing in our world. And that is what love looks like.