Training for the Good and Beautiful Life
by: Karen Bables
This beautifully written passage is revered by many Christians. However, it may be so familiar we do not notice that Paul pulls no punches here. He says that it doesn’t matter how much we believe, how generous we are, how articulately we express our faith, or even how willing we are to die for that faith. My kindness may be based on self-interest; my helping may be a hidden plea for approval; my service may come from feeling superior; my leadership may be a bid for control. No matter what I say, what I believe, or do, I am “bankrupt” if love is not behind it all.
Paul feels so strongly about this (perhaps based on sad memories of his own former persecution of Christians) that he carefully describes how the virtue love is demonstrated. Among other traits, it never gives up, struts, has a swelled head, flies off the handle, or keeps score of the sins of others. It cares more for others than for self, puts up with anything, trusts God always, looks for the best, never looks back. These characteristics make up the primary virtue of a good and beautiful life.
The world of spiritual formation teaches that we must be in lifelong training with the Holy Spirit to create love, faith, and hope in our lives; they don’t come by sitting on a church pew. They come with practice.