The Bible is full of references to the subject of love in its connection with faith, so that we receive the correct impression that true love is in direct relation to its Author, God himself. Without God’s nearness true love is not possible, and the greater the distance from him the greater the level of distortion of that love.

In the Chapter 13 of the Gospel of John, as well as in Chapter 13 of Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church, we learn that radical love is commanded of us and that this quality of love is clearly described in terms of a profound selflessness, self-forgetfulness, and a deliberate preference for other people.

What is most surprising and paradoxical about this command to love beyond the norm is the obvious truth discovered by anyone who has attempted it, namely, that it’s a human impossibility. We find that the more we try to achieve this level of love the more we short of it and the more out-of-reach it appears.

It is only when we place God at the center of our key relationships that we become faithful and loving, loyal and caring people, because God is faithful and loving.

So love as defined by 1 Corinthians 13 should sound something like this to us—

If I am a leader in the church, but have not love…
If I teach Bible studies and Sunday school, but have not love…
If I’m serving, but have not love…
If I profess to love and follow Christ, but have not love…

No love, no kindness—it all means nothing. In God’s sight, all our efforts are empty.

For we are called to—

Promote and prefer others, not ourselves…
Be kind and patient…
Speak words of encouragement, not those that find fault, slander, and destroy…
Reflect Christ’s love daily in every action of ours…

We live out the intent to be affectionate and gentle servants of others because God is there with his gifts in hand to grant the power and ability to be affectionate, loving, patient, and selfless. He grants his character to us by means of his always present and faithful Spirit. Our trust bond in God is the only conduit through which such love can be fully realized. There’s just no other way, no other connection, no other hope for achieving what we can’t live without.