As I think about this entire book of I Corinthians, it seems a lot of what Paul talks about here concerning love was in sharp contrast to how many of the Corinthians were acting.
Paul said that love is patient and kind, not rude nor self-seeking. And yet, at the communion table, the rich were pushing and shoving their way to the front of the line and were eating most of the good stuff, leaving the scraps (if that) for the poor among them. (11:17-34)
Paul said that love does not envy or boast, and is not proud. And yet, there were divisions within the church over leadership and about who was following who. (chapters 1 and 3). They also seemed to be proud of what they had and who they were in contrast to even Paul himself (chapter 4).
He said that love always protects, and yet, instead of protecting the weak in faith, they abused their “rights” as Christians (chapter 8).
And yet God is not like this. He is immeasurably patient with us and kind to us though we fail him so many times. He humbled himself by becoming a man and living among us, not as a king to reign, but as a servant who would die for us. He became angry when he saw evil, but delighted in those who embraced the truth he imparted. And now because of what Jesus did on the cross, the Father no longer keeps any record of the wrongs we have committed, holding them against us. Rather, he imparts his grace to us. He believes in us and is always hoping for the best in us. And God will never, ever fail us.
That is what we should strive to be. To love as he does. To treat others as he does.
I have to admit, I fall short of these standards. But without love in my life, I am nothing. So as one old song writer prayed, so I pray: “Jesus reduce me to love.”
Lord, take away all the envy, all the bitterness, all the things that would destroy my relationship with you and with others. Put me through your refining fire and let me come out as pure gold. Make me just like you. In Jesus name, amen.