1 Corinthians 13: From Immaturity, Growing In love
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My youngest son often declares that he loves me much more than I love him. Sometimes we joke about it, comparing the extravagant extent of our love. Other times I let it go with a smile at his immature grasp of how great a parent’s love for their child is.
Children do have a different view on the world. Their bodies and minds are growing and developing. Children express faith differently too. Sometimes we find their particular kind of expression challenging, like the steady flow of “Why?” questions or the not so quiet comment from the three-year-old in a pause in the Sunday service. Sometimes it is delightful. The child who rushes to meet you at the front gate is a warm welcome indeed. The straightforward prayers of children often put us adults to shame with their unabashed trust in their Heavenly Father.
When Paul compares the immaturity of a child to the maturity of an adult in 1 Corinthians 13, he is making a point about the enduring nature of love. It’s part of a larger argument about the unity of God’s people and the way we are to act when we meet together.
The Corinthian Christians were getting lost in all the differences. Some had big, impressive gifts; others didn’t. There was a lack of order, a lack of clear purpose, a lack of unity when they gathered. Paul reminds them that there are different kinds of gifts, but it is the same Spirit that gives them (1 Corinthians 12:4). There are different ways to serve and contribute, but all are needed (1 Corinthians 12:15, 27). God has a glorious purpose in all these differences, it is for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7, 18).
The most excellent way forward with all these different gifts is love. And what does love look like? It is patient, kind, not envious or boastful, not proud, not self-seeking, not easily angered, delighting in the truth, always protecting, trusting, hoping, persevering (1 Corinthians13:4-6). Love keeps us pointed in the right direction while we wait for Jesus to return, and we see him face to face.
Then, we shall “know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). We shall have a new, mature and complete understanding that is not possible now. There is nothing wrong with our present immaturity, though it has its challenges. It’s hard to be patient with others who are different, those of different ages, who might express faith differently, who might ask difficult questions, sometimes at the wrong time.
My son has a delightfully immature understanding of love. He will grow out of it. He is of no less value because of his immaturity. Yet it is good that he continues to grow up. Thankfully, our ‘immaturity’ will not last either.
We long for that day when we will see our Saviour face to face, and all the fog of immaturity disperses. Love for each other is how we demonstrate our faith while we wait. Love covers over all the wrinkles, gaps, weaknesses of our present experience of gathering as God’s people, young and old. What kind of love? The kind that remembers each part of the body is needed, even the less presentable parts. The kind of love that self-sacrificially cares for the weaker brother, the immature, the least of these. Love that never fails.
The Lift Up Your Hearts devotional series for the month of March 2021 are provided by Canon Craig Roberts, CEO, and his colleagues from Anglican Youthworks in Australia. Today’s devotion was written by Annemarie Rivers. You can find more of Youthworks excellent resources here.
Pray with us today's prayer request:
Lweru Diocese, Anglican Church of Tanzania, is growing very fast. In September 2020, we prayed for roofs for five new church plants. Praise God that one of these now has a corrugated roof. It is the rainy season , and the other four churches are in great need of a roof. Anglican Relief Development Fund Australia (ARDFA) is raising money for this (https://ardfa.org.au/lweru-church-roof) . Pray that the funds can be raised and the churches completed for the good of the community and to the glory of God.
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