by Stephen Rhoda

I recently officiated a wedding and within the ceremony preached a short sermon on 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a, a passage that I have previously preached for weddings and one that I’m sure is commonly used by preachers in that context.  But this time around, I was struck by the teaching of God’s Word that “love is a verb.”  This is one way that we might summarize this short passage.  Love is not just a feeling.  It is a feeling, indeed, a marvelous feeling.  But love is more than a feeling.  Love is a verb.

Even more, love is not just what we do, but what we do for others, to benefit them and our relationship to them.  In the first part of the passage, the Apostle Paul mentions several actions, like speaking, understanding, exercising faith, and practicing self-sacrifice.  And with every action we take, big or small, if love is lacking, we have nothing and gain nothing.  However, Paul’s point is not just that we feel love in all our actions, but that we do love; in other words, that our actions must be taken and directed to the benefits of others.

Therefore, Paul goes on to say, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.”  And so it becomes clear, first of all, that love is a verb, love is what we do; but even more, that love is what we do for others, to their benefit.

Here is a great passage for a wedding, but it was written for all followers of Christ, married or single, to hear and follow.  In our day and culture, as love is more and more being redefined in startling ways, let us return to God’s Word for our definitions of all things, including love.  Love is not just a feeling; it is what we do.  Even further, love is what we do for the good of others at every turn.  Such a focus on others and what is good for them was the focus of Christ in His saving ministry.  He never used His divine power to benefit Himself.  When He was tempted to do so in His wilderness temptation (Matthew 4:1-11), He refused and went on from there to carry out a ministry completely focused on the benefit of others.  If we have really been given the Spirit of Christ, then we will do the same.