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The Qualities of Love (1 of 5)
I Corinthians 13:4
In the first three verses of this chapter-as we saw-Paul well-nigh exhausts language in setting forth the excellence of love. Indeed, in these first three verses Paul does more than assert the supremacy of love, he declares that it is love that gives every other gift its value. He names the very choicest gifts-tongues, prophecy, knowledge, faith, alms-giving, sacrificial courage-and declares that they amount to nothing without love. They are like a row of zeros with no numeral in front. And how much does a row of a dozen or a hundred, or a thousand zeros amount to? To nothing at all. There must be a digit in front to give zeros any value. And so it is love that gives every other gift its worth. A man might just as well not have these gifts as have them without love. They profit him nothing.
Well, after such an exordium as that we want to know what this love is like which the apostle rates so highly. How does he define it? As a matter of fact he doesn't define it. He tells us instead, how it works, how it reveals its presence. I question whether anyone could define love. The simplest and most elemental things always defy definition. What is music? Can you define it? You can say with the dictionary that it is 'the science or art of tones.' But would that give a man any idea of music-the thing that shakes and ravishes the soul? What is color? Can you define it? You can say with the dictionary again that it is 'a property depending on the relations of light to the eye.' But does that give a man any idea of color-the color of a sunset, for example-those glowing reds and purples that fill the soul with delight and subdue it into worship? What is a diamond? The chemist will tell you it is 'native carbon in isometric crystals.' He can tell you exactly how it is composed. But when he has given you his chemical formula, he has given you no idea of the diamond, that stone which seems to have imprisoned sunsh ...
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