“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
– 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, NIV
Last week, my pastor shared a sermon on love. He referred to the chapter I shared above, the chapter that is recited at weddings but that people don’t think about on a daily basis in their marriage. When I realized that, it broke my heart, especially because my friend recited this passage at our wedding. During that sermon, I did a serious heart check. Do I love my husband in the way that Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians 13? Does our marriage reflect the love that God wants us to display in marriage?
Although it is a cute poetic passage to read at weddings, what does it actually mean to live out the words that are written within 1 Corinthians 13?
The first three verses give us a clue into where our hearts should be. We can do all the right things, but if they are not done in love, we have wasted our time. In marriage, this looks to me like sacrifice of self. I’m giving my spouse everything I own because I want him to have it, not because I want to look good. I’m encouraging my spouse because I want him to succeed, not because I want to show off my word skills. I’m praying for my spouse and putting God first in our marriage because God is worthy, not because I think God is a genie that will grant all my wishes if I just say a few prayers.
Paul was writing this letter to a church that had glorified lust and greed instead of love and sacrifice. This letter was more than just about marriage and lovey-dovey feelings; it was about creating a new culture that elevated God more than the fleshy nature of human beings. In our marriages, we should seek to elevate God above our selfishness, our pride, and our stubbornness. We do that by putting our spouses first (before ourselves), doing a daily heart check, and surrendering those icky parts of us that cause us to put love on the back burner.
During the next few weeks, I will be sharing how the different adjectives given in 1 Corinthians 13 can be practically displayed in marriage. If you would like to contribute to the conversation, comment below (or on Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/Instagram) about how you, your spouse, or someone else you know has exemplified 1 Corinthians 13 in your/his/her marriage. Then pray this week about how you can best show love to your spouse and to those in your sphere of influence.
*Update: I’ve been working on my book hardcore lately. They say that once you write your first book, the others just flow out of you. I’m waiting for that! Until then, I’ve been chiseling away at the free writing that I had done a few months ago, in order to create a masterpiece that will glorify God and inspire young adult women to find peace in the midst of their anxiety. So, I will be posting every other Monday and Wednesday, instead of every Monday and Wednesday, in order to make more time for my novel writing. This week I will post on Monday, and next week I will post on Wednesday. If you have an Instagram, feel free to follow me @elisabethmwarner, as I have been sharing how pursuing wellness has helped me control my anxiety.