Love never ends. -1 Corinthians 13:8 ESV
Love in 1 Corinthians 13 is talking about the ‘agape’ kind. The ultimate act of self-sacrifice. This makes sense when you know that God is Love (1 John 4:7-8) and the greatest expression of love is to lay your life down for your friends (John 15:13). That makes Jesus God’s greatest expression of Himself. That’s why love wins and that’s how you know who is born of God (John 13:35). Love is also how you keep God’s commands (Romans 13:8). Anyone who doesn’t love is dead (1 John 3:14).
Love wins on every level. It’s not emotionalism, it’s a huge statement rich with implications. It’s also the hardest thing to do because it’s self-sacrifice. This is why some can oppose it strongly and dismiss it as sentimental hog wash. Then, if you think about the prodigal son identifying himself with the hogs…well the Truth about love just doesn’t stop does it?
As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. – 1 Corinthians 13:8 ESV
These things are here by the Spirit, the Spirit speaking to people. But people are flawed and they do not fully understand everything, but they think, question, study and end up just having to trust that God is God and Jesus is His Son and He died for our sins so that we do not have to die in them. We can be and are forgiven. We are made holy, pure, righteous, and set right with God because of Jesus. God knows and understands us, even though we do not completely understand God. The prophecies, tongues, and knowledge that we have right now will pass away because there is more to come that we do not know. Everything we think we know is only in part.
If you think that the story of love is void of justice, then you’ve lost sight of Jesus on the cross. Wasn’t that the purpose of Jesus’ self-sacrifice? Jesus’ sacrifice has not lost it’s power.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part,… – 1 Corinthians 13:9 ESV
All of the knowledge, which is only a portion of the truth, can make people bloated with pride and end up tearing someone else down. The only thing that builds someone up is Love. In all that we think we know, we don’t know enough to tear someone else down.
…we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. – 1 Corinthians 8:1-2 ESV
When Jesus returns, we will know everything. Everything we know right now, all the things we’ve tried to figure out and made determinations about, is only part of the story. If life were a movie, we’re only partially into the movie. We don’t know everything, but we know up until this point. At the end, we’ll know the whole story.
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. – 1 Corinthians 13:10 ESV
The way you can understand this is to remember what your understanding of life was like when you were a child. Everything revolved around you, reality was filtered through your understanding. If it didn’t make sense, you would make sense of it based on what you knew up to that point. When you grew up, you learned more and what you thought you knew as a child didn’t exist anymore. For example, I thought that men gave birth to boys and women gave birth to girls. I got older and realized that women are the only ones who were able to have babies. Then, I thought that the mother had the upside down bowl of her bulging stomach cut off, set aside, the baby removed, and the upside down, deflated bowl sewn back on. I am older now and that knowledge I once was sure of has passed away. I knew part of the truth, but I didn’t know all of it. I made sense of things based on my understanding at the time. Anyone could have argued with me based on their understanding, but it all is reduced to a bunch of kids arguing with the tools of partial knowledge and the desire to be the one who is right.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. – 1 Corinthians 13:11 ESV
We don’t know everything right now. We’re still learning. When Jesus comes, we will know it all and be finished learning. God knows you completely, but you do not completely understand Him.
“Instead of claiming to know what God says, ask questions of one another, such as ‘How do we understand God in this?’ But don’t go around pretending to know it all, saying ‘God told me this…God told me that….’ I don’t want to hear it anymore…You can ask the prophets, ‘How did God answer you? What did he tell you?’ But don’t pretend that you know all the answers yourselves and talk like you know it all.” – God through Jeremiah 23:35-38
“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist.”
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. – 1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV
So, right now, with our partial understanding and our incomplete knowledge, the only thing we can be absolutely certain of is that God is the only God. Jesus is His son, and through Him we have forgiveness, grace, mercy, love, and eternal life. Since we don’t know everything, and in order to not let pride destroy people you know nothing about, the only thing you can do to always be right is have faith in the finished work of Jesus. Let that be your hope for yourself and for others and use that faith and hope to love them. The greatest is Love.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. –1 Corinthians 13:13 ESV
Cultivate a life in common. Fight to get along, not to be right. Build each other up, don’t tear them down. We all are in this together. Do the best you can and leave your ego behind. If fear and self-rightiousness is motivating you, you’re going to be wrong. Let love be your guide. It’s the only way to get it right. Be patient. There is always doubt. Try giving the benefit instead of taking it away. Be kind to people. Love them. Stand up for them because not all the evidence is in yet.
So don’t get ahead of the Master and jump to conclusions with your judgments before all the evidence is in. When he comes, he will bring out in the open and place in evidence all kinds of things we never even dreamed of—inner motives and purposes and prayers. Only then will any one of us get to hear the “Well done!” of God. -1 Corinthians 4:5