“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” (1 Corinthians 13:8)
What does it mean when Paul writes that “love never fails”? The love spoken about in 1 Corinthians 13 will never fail because God never fails. He is eternal, and so his love will last for eternity (Isaiah 40:28).
What about the times we find ourselves on the receiving end of disappointments, rejections, maybe broken trust, or a friendship that became a cold shoulder? The connections we shared with others might feel real and true, tied together with what has to be love: that thing Paul calls patient, kind, and persevering. But if relationships end, or promises fall through, what is it we are meant to trust in?
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What Actually Fails Us?
When it appears that love has failed us, it may well be that the affections we hoped to receive and sustain us, have failed us. For any kind of relationship to fall through is no small thing. Remember that it’s ok to mourn the difficulties and lack we might feel. This hurt is part of what reminds us that we were made for wholeness, for a love that is higher and unbreakable. The pain is a dissonance signaling to us that something is not right. Things weren’t meant to be this way. Rejection and separation were not a part of God’s original design.
But when you mourn, remember: God intends to restore what was broken. From the moment sin separated mankind from its Creator, God set in motion a plan to cleanse, restore, and heal. The grace of this plan was born out of who he is: love. And nothing is more certain than what God intends to accomplish.
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What Is Love?
"For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (1 Corinthians 12:13)
Societies and cultures throughout human history have had their own ideas about what love is, how it ought to be expressed, or who deserves to receive it. The themes of love depicted in pop culture or mainstream entertainment are often a shadow of the breadth and depth of the love of our Father. In the end, God has the final word for the definition of love.
"Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him." (1 John 4:8-9)
God's love will not fail in what it set out to accomplish. The passage writes that prophecies, tongues, and knowledge will pass away, but love will remain forever. Read this passage and meditate on the love our good and faithful Father has poured out on us. This is the love he calls us to steward and share with our brothers and sisters, with the alien and stranger, with those closest to and farthest from him.
"Love is Indispensable" - 1 Corinthians 13
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
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Because of Jesus, Love Will Never Fail
If I place my hope in the love of God, rather than hinging my happiness on the often well-meaning but broken affections of people, I trust in a love that existed before the earth was formed, a love that made the ultimate sacrifice for my renewal, a love that gave up glory and experienced our lack in order to be near. This kind of love will never fail, because this love holds the final victory in Jesus Christ.
Sarah E Martin is the Devotionals Editor for iBelieve.com, part of the Salem Web Network. She currently lives in Virginia and enjoys a good walk, a good read, and frequent adventures.
This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin and history of specific verses within Scripture context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.
"Be Still and Know that I Am God"
"Pray Without Ceasing"
"Fearfully and Wonderfully Made"
"Faith Without Works is Dead"
"Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart"
"All Things Work Together for Good"
"Be Strong and Courageous"
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Originally published Friday, 15 February 2019.