I must have read this passage a billion times (or close to it), and yet as I read it again today, God brought some new light to it. Not so much in what the passage means, but in what it means to me.
I’m sure you know how important it is to make the Bible personal. To not just read it as a novel or as a set of platitudes. But as God’s very words to you.
I have heard people personalize this passage by inserting their names in verses 4-8. For example, “Bruce is patient; Bruce is kind,” and so forth. And that’s good in that it makes us take a careful look at ourselves and how much we have these characteristics of love in our lives.
But as I was reading this passage today, I started personalizing it in another way that I’ve never heard before.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love for my wife, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol. If I have the gift of prophesy, and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love for my daughter, I am nothing.
All of this really makes me think. I personally don’t speak in tongues, but I do do a lot of preaching. But if I don’t love my wife, then to God, I’m just making noise. If I have great insight into the scripture, and can speak the very words of God to the people around me with power, and yet do not love my own daughter, I am nothing.
And so I start to think, “Am I really loving my wife and my daughter as I should? Am I patient? Am I kind? Am I self-seeking? Am I easily angered? Am I always trusting? Am I always hoping for their best? Am I always persevering for their sake?”
Honestly, I can’t always answer those questions as I’d like to.
I could spread that application out to the other people in my life: to my coworkers, to the people at church, and so forth. But for now, that focus on my wife and daughter are a lot to work on right there.
So that’s where I need to be starting.
How about you? If you’re married, with kids or without, are you loving the ones God has given to you in your family? You may be doing great things in the world or even in the church. But if you are not loving your wife or your kids, you are nothing.
For others of you, who are the people God is bringing to your mind as you read this? It could be your parents. It could be that annoying coworker at work or that difficult person at church.
Whoever God brings to your mind, I encourage you to pray, and ask God to love that person as you should. To show you in what ways you can love them better.
Lord, I don’t want to be just a lot of noise. I don’t want all that I do to be burned up because I fail to love the people you have given me in my life. Show me how to love better. My wife. My daughter. And everyone you put in my path. Lord, I fall so short. So please, teach me to love as you do. In Jesus name, amen.