Training for the Good and Beautiful Life

Read: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. (v. 3 MSG)

This beautifully written passage is revered by many Christians. However, it may be so familiar that 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. —Karen Bables

As you pray, ask God to save you from bankruptcy of spirit.

About the Author

Karen Bables is the retired Spiritual Director of Christ Memorial Church in Holland, Michigan.

This entry is part 9 of 14 in the series Introduction to Spiritual Formation