Saint Paul makes a valiant attempt to compare love to the other spiritual gifts we receive from the Holy Spirit. By means of contrast, love is the greatest gift of all, out pacing prophecy, speaking in tongues, and even faith. We kind of get that, don’t we? Love is a big deal. However, if you’re not readily familiar with prophets, tongue speakers, and really faithful things; love only seems kind of important. To really get how important love ought to be, we need our own equivalents to prophecy, tongues, and first century ideas of faith. I think this would help clarify this passage we’ve all heard hundreds of times.
Let me tell you what I love. I love tomato sandwiches made from fresh tomatoes grown out of my parent’s garden. I love those sandwiches to be made with Duke’s Mayonnaise. I love grits. I love bacon prepared in my grandmother’s cast iron frying pan. I love the understand genius of Conway Twitty. I love driving by little country churches between here and where I grew up and thinking, “I bet there’s some good preaching going on in there Sunday mornings.” I love looking off into the distance where a corn field meets the tree line. I love going to the Waffle House on Friday afternoons when people get off work and listen to them talk about their week so I can shape my prayers. I love all these things.
However, if I don’t have love for my wife or my family, my grits are tasteless and bland, no matter how much salt and butter I add. If my love for my wife and family are absent, I won’t hear a word that Bible thumping preacher says. Without the love of my wife, the frying pan will never be seasoned and the bacon won’t be crispy. The love for my wife is what makes the flavor of the tomatoes come alive once they’re off the vine. Kevin and April, love is the greatest gift of all. It is a big deal. As you become husband and wife today, I challenge you to think of the most important things in your life. Ask yourselves, what do you love? Whatever they are, they’ll never be as meaningful without the others loving presence.
Richard Lowell Bryant