… But (if I) have not love, I am nothing … 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; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
1 Corinthians 13:2-8
These Bible verses on love are often read at wedding ceremonies. But these powerful words of love were not originally spoken to a couple standing hand in hand in an idyllic wedding setting surrounded by smiling family and friends. They were addressed to church leaders arguing in an unloving manner over who or what was most important and most needed in their church. Are prophets, preachers, praise singers, philosophers or philanthropists most needed? And the apostle Paul’s answer then was clear: whatever you think is the right answer is of little or no significance if you are not showing love to one another. If my debate with you lacks patience and kindness, if my points are argued with arrogance and disrespectful barbs, insisting on my way or no other way, then I am without love, and without love, I am nothing.
Since most, if not all, husbands and wives manage to find occasions for debate or disagreement, perhaps these Bible verses on love are indeed appropriate for a married couple to hear. But they should be heard, and heeded, not only during the idyllic peaceful setting of a wedding chapel, but more importantly, and most often, in the less idyllic times when couples debate and disagree on what is most needed for their marriage and their children. Married couples (and church leaders) need to practise the love described here in the Bible which is “patient and kind … not arrogant or rude …” for without which, they would be “nothing”.
Bishop Dr Gordon Wong was elected Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore in 2020.
He served as President of the Trinity Annual Conference from 2012-2020.