The Highest Form Of Love

Faith Schiller, Associate Campus Pastor, Willow Online | May 8, 2024

“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

If you’ve attended a wedding before, odds are you’ve heard the famous love passage from 1 Corinthians 13. It starts like this, “Love is patient, love is kind…” and then goes on for several beautiful verses about what love is and is not. If you study how this passage defines love, you’ll discover that it is a shocking, countercultural way to go about showing others we care for them. But what fascinates me most about 1 Corinthians 13 are the verses that come right before the famous love passage. 

A little context. This passage isn’t actually talking about romantic love; it’s talking about the highest form of love. Love that transcends emotion, sexual desire, or even brotherly affection. The love in this passage is the ultimate expression of commitment and passion; it is the love God shows the world in John 3:16. In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, we learn why this kind of ultimate love is so important.

Today’s scripture is all about religious expression without this kind of committed and passionate love. And essentially, the biblical author is saying, “Hey, without this ultimate kind of love, then what you do is kinda pointless.” A little cliche we often use in the church is the phrase “Relationship over Religion.” Have you heard that before? While its repetitive use might make this phrase sound cringey, that doesn’t change the truth behind it. Our religious expressions like worship, generosity, and serving matter to God, but only so far as they are anchored in our authentic relationship with Him. 

If we’re out here fervently serving God, but never taking time to know God, to love Him with commitment and passion, then we’ve missed the point of what it means to be in a loving relationship with a loving God. Similarly, if we serve others but neglect loving others with commitment and passion, we’re missing the mark on what it means to live out the love of God.

Next Steps

Spend some time praying and journaling about who God has called you to serve right now. Ask yourself, “Do I love them with the same commitment and passion that God has loved me with?” Invite the Holy Spirit to focus your heart on what you might do to love differently.