1 Corinthians 13 is one of the most well known chapters in the Bible, as it beautifully describes love. “Love is patient, love is kind”, etc. But, there are also some not so easily understood sentiments included in this important chapter as well. While they might not be as flowery, and likely aren’t included in as many wedding ceremonies as the earlier verses in the chapter, the “other” verses in 1 Corinthians 13 also offer some powerful nuggets pertaining to love.
When speaking of the “other” verses in 1 Corinthians 13, what I specifically mean are verses 8-12, which are presented below:
8 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 perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 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 childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
This short blog isn’t designed to be a lengthy theological breakdown/interpretation of these verses, but I do want to make some brief observations.
Things that seem important, or established, really are but of temporary significance.
We do the best we can with the limited knowledge/understanding that we have.
We will (do) have everything that we need through a perfect presence (Jesus Christ).
There is a distinct difference between being a child and a grown man.
The “mirror”, the partiality and imperfection, of our earthly life will be fully revealed and completed in our eternal life in heaven.
Why would Paul include verses 8-12 in a chapter devoted to “Love”? Was he not sure where to use those thoughts and just decided to tack them on to 1 Corinthians 13? Of course not. Remember, in Corinthians, Paul was writing to the Church of Corinth to address several issues and incorrect viewpoints that were infesting the church there.
Instead of asking if those verses belong in a chapter about love, let’s instead accept the inerrancy of it, and look for practical ways that love is being described. Lovingly, Paul points to Christ as the answer, as the perfect fullness, to all of the inconclusiveness that we experience this side of heaven. “When perfection comes, the imperfect disappears”.
As men who are tasked with the responsibility (and opportunity) to lead in our churches, households, workplaces, and communities, we must be mindful of the fact that while we strive to do the best that we can, we also must do so in a humble manner — knowing that our current/earthly “now” is but a mere reflection/imitation of a complete picture of life. Our lives are lived in part here on earth, but then continue in eternity in heaven — so in a sense our earthly life is the imperfect reflection/imitation of the eternal radiance that we were originally created for, and will experience in heaven.
We recognize in our own lives the significant/profound growth that we have experienced as we went from talking, thinking, and reasoning like children and instead putting those childish ways behind us when we became men. Likewise, we must humbly approach our daily walk in life knowing that in a sense we are still but children in terms of our knowledge, understanding, and vision of perfection/eternity. Keeping that in mind will help us to stay humble, but also to ceaselessly yearn for the perfection that is to come. Take heart, in many regards humbling ourselves as children do is absolutely a good thing!
3 I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3-4)
You see, as 1 Corinthians 13 tells us, and as we see over and over throughout the Bible, love is displayed through submission and faith. How do children live each day? That’s right, they submit to their parents/guardians and have faith that their needs will be provided for.
In terms of faith: The 1 Corinthians 13 verses that we have been focusing on today demonstrate that in our present life we have many half-views, and with those we do our best knowing, teaching, and living within this context. Now we know in part; then we will know fully, even as we are fully known. As such, we live our earthly lives in large part guided by our faith.
In terms of submission: Jesus teaches us an important lesson in Matthew 18 about living with a submissive/humble mindset, as children do. Many additional examples of this same concept are found throughout the Bible, including in another writing from Paul which stresses how we are to demonstrate love through submission;
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)
As children live by submission and faith and, as Jesus’ example tells us, in so doing are on the right track towards entering the kingdom of heaven through Christ, so we must also live with a similar perspective. Paul knew this, and relayed this powerful message to us in the “other” verses of his chapter about “Love”. Let us hear the lesson, and apply it to our lives as we live and love with humility, submission, and faith. Let us talk, think and reason as Christian men.
Coach Shane is a disciple of Jesus Christ, a husband, a father, and an entrepreneur. He is an International Coach Federation (ICF) trained life coach and graduate of the Certified Professional Life Coach (CPLC) program from the Christian Coach Institute. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree (BA) and Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA).
Coach Shane has a heart for helping men, families, and young adults in their earthly walks as they continue to grow and develop into the family, church, business, and community leaders that God is calling them to become. He does not teach about the Bible or religion as a trained Pastor or theologian would, but rather relates Christian principles to the everyday walk of earthly life, doing so from a layman’s perspective. Applying a Christian perspective to real life. For more information visit Shane Hansen, Christian Life Coach, LLC
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