1 Corinthians 13:4-5
The sisters, Patience and Kindness, lead the way. They are members of Love’s family. But Envy wants to be included and tags along after them, bringing her siblings, Boasting, Arrogance, and Rudeness—who also want to join the party. Lastly come Irritability and Resentfulness, a set of surly, distant cousins who are always jockeying for position. Their constant quarreling will result in their needing a taxi later. They tip poorly, by the way.
Paul names these good and bad qualities in one of the most timeless and beautiful passages in the entire Christian testament, if not the entire Bible. He presents them as a way to teach what love does and doesn’t look like. It gives me joy that such beautiful, noble, and inspiring words, read by the whole world over, also includes a set of humanity’s more ill-natured and irritable qualities.
But here they are, warts and all. And what does Love do?
Love goes out and meets them coming up the walk, invites them inside and makes a place at the head table for all of them. They are family too, Love insists. This is a disarming and gracious gesture which even Envy can’t find anything wrong with.
Perhaps Paul’s chapter on love is appreciated as much as it is because it includes these lesser qualities, which, if we’re honest, we recognize as some of ours.
Can I honestly say that all of my thoughts are on behalf of love? When I feel envious of another person’s happiness, how might I bring love into my thoughts?
God of love, thank you for coming to meet me regardless of whether I am at my best or my worst. Help me in my relationships to set aside my lesser qualities, that I might extend your greater ones. Amen.