“So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love” (1 Corinthians 13:3b MSG).
What does it mean to be bankrupt? One definition relevant to this passage is, “a person who is completely lacking in a particular desirable quality or attribute.”
The writer of 1 Corinthians lists, in order, 15 qualities that love has. These are descriptive and show what true love is like.
Jesus = Love
It’s been said that if you put “Jesus” in every place in this chapter where “love” is mentioned, you see what Jesus is really like and how love is made personal in each of these characteristics through Him. It makes sense. God is love and Jesus is God, so when you substitute Jesus with love it’s a seamless transition. It gets tricky though when we attempt to put our name in the place of love. What happens then? It’s easy for me to replace Jesus for love, but not so easy to put me in that spot. You see in practice, I am often not patient, I sometimes envy, and I have been known to keep a record of wrongs, and on and on it goes.
The Christian Ideal
1 Corinthians 13 is more than just a memorable, quotable poem; it’s the Christian ideal. When Christ will enters our life to a meaningful degree we are no longer bankrupt, but we’re living the ideal of love. It’s not theory, but practice in our dealings we have with others; from the most personal to a stranger. It means we change our minds about people. It means we want the best for them. It means our definition of who is our neighbor is greatly expanded. It means we don’t consider ourselves first. It means we don’t judge situations prematurely and we aren’t rude because we think we’re better than the next guy.
The Ideal Christian
There is no ideal Christian, but I’ll take one who is kind over one who can move a mountain, any day! Click To Tweet There’s no substitute for love. Love is the greatest. Everything we do for God should be motivated by it. Without it we’re bankrupt, but with God’s love working in us we lack nothing.