Have you ever heard someone use a bible verse to, in the “Christian” way, rip someone else apart? Scripture is often misused to let someone, or a group of someone’s, know that they are not living up to the self-righteous standards of an individual or group who is stating the verse, usually in a legalistic or Pharisaical manner.
As I was studying this week, something from the “Love Chapter” in 1 Corinthians popped off the page. It almost appears to not even fit in this passage about love, and yet it is a common verse that I have heard people use to beat others down who don’t agree with them, who are new to the faith or even just checking the whole Jesus thing out…and it is used completely out of the context in which Paul places it within this chapter. The verse is:
1 Corinthians 13:11 – When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
If I read this verse (11) with a law mind-set (where we have to keep all the rules for God to love and accept us) it is easy to pull this verse out of this chapter and pound someone else over the head with it, especially without the proper understanding of the passage (context) or the greater understanding of God’s love (grace). However, this is a chapter on love, and Jesus personified love through His amazing gift of grace! When reading scripture, we must read it through the eyes of grace, not condemnation! First of all, scripture is to be used as a mirror, for the reader to develop a deeper relationship with God and gain understanding into His character. It’s not to be used to tear others down! Second, when interpreting what His word is meaning, you have to get the context of what the writer is saying. Here, Paul is teaching that regardless of the gifts God has given each of us (1-2), the incredible faith we may possess (2), or the amazing generosity we may show (3), without love (defined in verses 4-7) we are nothing (2), gain nothing (3) and are just an annoyance to those around us who may be far from God (1)!
1 Corinthians 13:1-7 – 1 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. 2 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. 3 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. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
So, with an understanding of what love is through the lens of grace, we can read on and see that when completeness comes (10), that is when we move on to be with Jesus, all our abilities and limited knowledge we have gained through our own strength will disappear (8-10) and become complete through Him and His grace!
1 Corinthians 13:8-10 – 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
Then we come to verse 11, the very verse I spoke of previously in this post. Yet, in the context of what Paul is saying, as children we are self-centered and always trying to coerce others into believing and thinking what we believe and think based upon our limited understanding or knowledge. As children, we tend to focus less on loving people and more on getting our way; less on meeting people’s needs and more on changing their minds; less on extending grace and more on passing condemnation. You see the pattern? It is a vicious cycle that can lead to the opposite of freedom that Jesus offers!
1 Corinthians 13:11- When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
Check back next week for the conclusion of this post (Let It Be Love – Part 2) where we discover the pay off of in heeding Paul’s words and aligning our life with that of Grace through Jesus Christ! Until then, read 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 and prepare your heart for grace and love through your life in Christ!