1 Corinthians 13: A positive view

1 Corinthians 13--1-3

Instead of the usual Verse of the Day, let us take a look at the “Quote of the Day” for October 23, 2017,

“If I don’t, then I won’t—if I do, then I will.”

Actually the line is the title of a freshly composed poem inspired by 1 Corinthians 13 where the Word of God answers in detail one of the questions of the ages: “What is love?” The chapter unfolds as an extended  definition of the concept of “love” or “agape”, the unique expression of the love of God used throughout the New Testament, particularly in 1 Corinthians 13. Actually, the extended definition of love takes the form of a definition by negation, meaning the concept is explained in terms of its opposites or what it is not.What something is not becomes what it is. “It is what it is,” one of the popular sayings of the day, brings to light that “charity” or “the love of God” or “agape” is the opposite of what the Scriptures declare it is not.

In reflecting on this celebrated chapter so often recited as a whole or in part on Valentine’s Day or at weddings or other special occasions, I thought I would read it from a different view point in light of principles that I recall from high school lessons in math and English.

In math if you have a negative number and you multiply it by a negative number, the result will be a positive number; for example, -4 x -3 = + 12. Likewise, in English, we have a “double negative” when you use of two negative words in the same sentence. The resulting sentence will convey the exact opposite of what you intended, as your negatives cancel each other out. “I do not want you to NOT love” is the same as saying “I want you to love.”  These concepts bring to mind the lyrics of the popular song from the 1950s reminding us to “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, and don’t mess with Mr. In-between.”

Here is a different view of 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 in the Amplified Bible modified from a more positive viewpoint:

 1IF I [can] speak in the tongues of men and [even] of angels, [and do have] love (that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God’s love for and in us), I am [more than] only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.   I become an instrument of peace.

 And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but [do have love] (God’s love in me) I am [not] nothing (a useless nobody). I am really something (I am somebody).

3Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that [God may be glorified], [and have love] (God’s love in me), I gain [everything].

When we choose to walk in love or demonstrate the power of love, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Here is a poetic summary of our discussion:

If I don’t, then I won’t—If I do, then I will

A different take on I Corinthians 13

 

What does 1 Corinthians 13 really say? Talk to me;

Follow me and let me show you what I see.

The Word never returns void but prospers where it is sent

When read from another view, this is what I think it meant:

If I speak in tongues fluently but don’t have love,

Though I have evidence of the sign of the dove,

I am a clanging cymbal, nothing more than noise

But if I choose to love, I can now use my voice

To make new music as an instrument of peace,

To silence discord and cause all jangling to cease.

Although I flow prophetically with faith that is great,

But without love I am not even second rate.

But if I love, I am not least but the greatest.

Even if I give my life, the ultimate test,

Without God’s love what have I really gained—nothing,

But when I give, moved by love, I gain everything,

Kingdoms may fade, but the love of God will never cease.

For love will not diminish but only increase.

Whether to walk in love or not, we each must choose.

Strange as it may seem, when you give you cannot lose.

If God’s love is not the motive, you cannot win,

For the one who loves always wins, again and again.

Bernie Armstrong offers “1 Corinthians 13—The Wedding Song–Love Never Fails,” not just a lovely song for marriage but a truly beautiful song of life:

 

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