September 19th, The greatest…

1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13

“Brothers and sisters:
Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.

But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues
but do not have love,
I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy
and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;
if I have all faith so as to move mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own,
and if I hand my body over so that I may boast
but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, love is not pompous,
it is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.
If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing;
if tongues, they will cease;
if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child,
think as a child, reason as a child;
when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
but then face to face.
At present I know partially;
then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
So faith, hope, love remain, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.”

I wasn’t going to write anything on this reading today because I didn’t want my wife to read it because I basically would be giving a long list of my failings as a husband.  I’ll be a bit open and blunt and say we’ve had our ups and downs.  We’ve gone a day or two without talking to each other.  Our pride and ego’s have gotten the best of us.  We both have said things to each other we regret.  Unfortunately all of these things things are like toothpaste.  Once they get out, you can’t put them back.

There’s a misconception out there that marriage is a fairy-tale (thank you Disney) and everything is just awesome.  I am here to tell you marriage is not always awesome.  Today’s reading is very popular at Christian weddings.  It’s a good instruction for marriage but also with those around us.  Paul tells us all sorts of things that mean absolutely nothing unless it’s done with love.

I have not been patient, not been kind, I have been jealous, pompous, etc.  I could go on and on and on.  I have given my wife plenty of reasons to give up on me.  But she just won’t give up on me.  Why? Because she loves me.  She want’s the best for me.  The same reasons that despite her one or two shortcomings I don’t give up on her.  In fact I push her to do better and be better out of love even though it’s not always in the most loving manner.  My goal as a husband is to help her along to Heaven.  Her goal as my wife is the same.  Together we have raised a family.

And even though my adult son caused me to age prematurely when he was a teenager, and my teenagers now are causing my baldness, and my pre-schooler is causing me to lose my marbles,…I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  There’s nothing more fulfilling and satisfying than a family.  The sacrifices we make, the things that we give up in our lives for our spouse and children are nothing compared to the rewards that love brings to us.

Some younger adults these days, (in their 20’s) who have come from broken homes have never seen this before.  Some have told me that they would never get married because they didn’t see the point.  It only brought misery to their parents that ended in divorce.  There’s a time and a place for everything.  Personally I think that it’s beneficial for kids to see their parents disagree and argue a little, and see them reconcile and forgive.  Would that not be better than for them to think everything is great when it’s not?  Or for them to fail as an adult and think of where they went wrong because they never seen their parents fall and get back up?

Growing up two miles from my grandparents I remember some disagreements and a few words said between my grandparents.  But they persisted out of love for each other for almost 67 years before death separated them 6 days apart.  My other grandparents for 40 years before my grandpa died at 63 had a few more colorful discussions as my grandma was a very strong willed woman and my grandpa was rather softSpoken yet firm.  I have seen personally all of them put things behind them and move on out of love.

Love isn’t always pretty.  Love isn’t always happiness.  Love can cause disagreements.  But in the end after we’ve grown a little older and a little wiser, we don’t think or talk like a child or do childish things anymore, but see a little bit more clearly.  Let’s make sure we convey to the next generation what love really is.  How it’s wanting more for another rather than for yourself.

Oh, just one more thing:  God loves us despite our shortcomings and failings. God isn’t going to always approve of the things we do that offend Him. But God always forgives should we repent and ask for that forgiveness. Do we do the same with our spouses?

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