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.
— 1 Corinthians 13:1
Imagine that you want to impress a friend with a special party. You put all your energy and attention into getting the details just right. But you get so stressed out in the process that you ignore your friend. Your friend might say, “I don’t want a fancy party; I just want to spend time with you!” In your efforts to make something beautiful, you end up missing the point. Your friend doesn’t require a lot of fanfare and expense; your friend just wants the beauty of your personal time and attention.
Some of the Christians in the city of Corinth had the special gifts of speaking in tongues and prophesying. They thought these gifts were impressive, and the whole community tended to focus on these displays of faith. As a result, though, they ended up missing the point of Christian community, which is to love one another. The apostle Paul wrote them a letter (1 Corinthians) to encourage them to get back to the basics. And in chapter 13 he describes the self-sacrificial kind of love (agape) that follows the pattern of Jesus himself.
Jesus has shown us the most beautiful way, the way of love. Following his example, we can let go of worrying about being impressive. Instead, we can focus on what’s truly beautiful—and that is self-sacrificial love.
God, sometimes we get distracted and forget about the most beautiful thing of all. Restore us again to the beauty of your love in Jesus. Amen.