WHEN HE RETURNS
Loving Lord, thank you for the hope that sustains me, your Spirit who empowers me, and your love that endures forever.
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 13:8-13
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. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 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.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectBegin by reading verse 13. Consider how you have experienced God’s love in the past few weeks and months.
Paul pictures time with two poles: what Christ did for us in the past, and what will happen when Christ returns. In between is the present, the messy middle, and it is in this period that Paul lived and we live. In this time, our experience of Christ and his Spirit is real, but partial (see verses 9,10), far less than we shall experience ‘when completeness comes’ (v 10) at Christ’s return. Our spiritual gifts are not the final perfection: our spiritual knowledge and experience, prophesying, and tongues-speech are partial (vs 8,9). One thing that will last into eternity is love (vs 8,13), for God’s own character is love.
Paul gives two illustrations. First, our present situation is like childhood. There’s nothing wrong with being a child – this isn’t a put- down of the Corinthians’ spiritual experience – but children are meant to grow up (v 11). That’s something to look forward to, rather than wanting to live in a spiritual Never-Never Land like Peter Pan. Second, Corinth was known for its bronze mirrors, which were good by the standards of the time. But even the best reflected image does not compare with seeing a person face to face (v 12), in the way Moses saw God face to face (Numbers 12:8) – and that’s what we look forward to!
Make a plan to help you keep the hope of Christ’s return before your mind and act on it.
Heavenly Father, teach me to love as I ought, and to demonstrate that love each day.
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