1 Corinthians 13:8 “Love never fails.”
Is that true? Don’t we see love fail? I fail to love all the time. It is unbelievably difficult to resist the impulse to try to bend, twist, and shape the entire universe around me into my own little kingdom, one whose sole purpose is to serve me and make me happy. It seems as though I have been pre-programmed for this. It is a feature of original sin. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if my own comfort and convenience is the goal of my existence, love is going to suffer. Then people are no longer the objects of my service, the recipients of my kindness. They are little more than a means to an end. They become the objects of my lust, the targets of my greed, the enablers of my laziness, the victims of my anger, the justification for my self-pity. Do we “love” others then? Only in the sense that a famished person loves the steak dinner he is about to devour to settle his hunger. Only in the sense that demons love to control the people they possess. That is hardly the love Paul has in mind. That is sin.
All of this is not the failure of love, however. It is the failure of me. As a redeemed child of God, it is my failure to live in the love that he has shown to me. His love certainly never fails. It was love that led our Lord to leave his heavenly life of luxury and live here like us in a fallen world. It was love that led him to sacrifice food and sleep to serve the suffering souls who sought help for their sickness and disease. It was love that made Jesus the Lamb of sacrifice, who stood in our place, suffered for our sins, delivered us from death, and secured for us life that never ends. His continuing love for you and me has preserved his saving word for us. Love serves us his sacraments, and in this way sends his Spirit into our hearts, so that we believe and receive his forgiveness and know his love. Love makes this all a free and complete gift, so that any response on our part is not a self-interested attempt to purchase what he freely gives. It is truly an expression of thankful love.
So long as God’s children are receiving this grace by faith, he continues to fill them with his love, so that they may love as well. The Apostle John picked up this theme in his first letter. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God…. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” (1 John 4:7,12). You and I may fail, but God never does, and neither does his love. Long after the last curtain has fallen on the story of this world, and we have lived through many scenes in the eternal story to follow, God will still love us. His love will still fill us with love for him and for each other.
Truly, then, love never fails.