Read: 1 Corinthians 13:1-7

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (v. 7)

First Corinthians 13 is most often associated with weddings. It seems the perfect passage to pair with a celebration of romantic love. The irony is that Paul’s famous “love” chapter is not about romantic love at all. The Greek word for romantic love is erōs. In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul uses a different word entirely: agapē.

 Erōs, romantic love, is primarily concerned with the yearning desire for self-fulfillment and self-gratification. Erōs is the sensuous drive to attract someone else for the sake of completing oneself. Agapē is the exact opposite. Paul goes to great lengths to describe a love that is absolutely other-focused, yet fully relational. Agapē is a love that gives itself away. Who loves that way?

God does. Throughout the Old Testament, the Lord introduces himself as “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exod. 34:6). The Old Testament equivalent to agapē is chesed. It is never translated simply “love.” It is always accompanied by an adjective such as “steadfast” or “faithful.” One of my professors called chesed God’s “bitter” love, because it is a love that cost God everything. God’s love comes to perfect expression at the cross of Jesus Christ, where God poured out his life so we could live.

The Holy Spirit is God’s perfect love poured into our hearts. The Spirit changes the way we love by filling us to overflowing with a love that never stops giving. —Ben Van Arragon

As you pray, ask God to fill you to overflowing with his perfect love.

About the Author

Ben Van Arragon is a pastor, husband, and father of two teenage daughters. He has served the First Christian Reformed Church of Detroit since 2008. He writes and produces video teaching on the Bible and Reformed creeds and confessions. His writing for Words of Hope includes series on Jeremiah, Exodus, and Work and Rest.