Reflection on 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
All we need is love; at least that’s what the songwriters, poets, movie producers, and others would have us to believe. And you know what? I tend to agree with them to a certain extent.
What is there about love that makes it so compelling to the point of being a more excellent way of life? I’m glad you asked! As we engage in the process of loving others, we continue to grow and benefit psychologically from the acts of charity we extend. This feeling has been referred to as a “helper’s high” or the “Mother Teresa effect.” In other words, charitable acts can lead to positive feelings. Some scholars have noted that an actual change in brain chemistry occurs within people after they have done something generous. Explicitly, the act of giving has been shown to produce endorphins and reduce stress hormones in a similar way that exercise does. As a fringe benefit, some studies have shown that people who are happier and less stressed tend to be more productive and more apt to succeed.
In addition to all that, recent scholars have noted that there is healing power associated with doing good deeds. They contend that when we care for others, we are caring for ourselves. These scholars report that helping others on a regular basis gives people an immediate physical sensation, including warmth, increased energy, and a sense of euphoria. When we give of ourselves, especially if we start young, we reap other benefits. Mortality is delayed. Depression is reduced. Well-being is increased.
The Apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Church in Corinth also believed in the importance of love. Love is that unifying vision for life in God’s kingdom here on earth. And it can be expressed through acts of charity, philanthropy, and generosity extended to persons in need of a helping hand. Such love is one of the noblest expressions of the human spirit; it can promote goodness and kindness even in the midst of the most intolerable situations.
Furthermore, as Paul demonstrated in Corinth, engaging in acts of love can help to build communities that sustain well-being and peace among all its members, no matter what their gifts. The scripture teaches us that even though our gifts may eventually diminish, love will last forever – And now abide faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love. And love is a more excellent way!
Gracious God, I thank you for showing me that love is a more excellent way. Amen.