Where did Paul get the idea that without love— eloquence is noise.. and that knowledge, understanding, faith, and even charitable sacrifice amount to nothing?
If we knew nothing about his story we might assume that Paul was probably just a thoughtful observer of life in the home, neighborhood, workplace, temple, or halls of political debate.
On the other hand, if we knew that Paul was a student of Jewish Law, we might conclude, as others had, that the Mosaic Code shakes down to two basic principles: consuming love for God and giving our neighbor the consideration we’d want for ourselves.
Paul’s story, however, shows more. His ambitious knowledge of the Scriptures and Moses left him angry, judgmental, controlling, and even violent. It was only after being knocked off his feet by Jesus that he saw that it is only a certain kind of love that makes words, knowledge, understanding, faith, and generosity beneficial.
But where from Jesus did Paul get the idea that the love that makes a difference in everything we do and think is patient, kind, not envious or jealous, and doesn’t keep a record of wrongs?
My hunch is that Paul learned by experience that such transforming love is not a law but a grace—and that it is found in how far Jesus went to reveal his Father— with the resulting assurance that this is how God loves us… even in his own jealousy and judgment.
What do you think? Is it possible that Paul’s understanding of this certain kind of love was grounded in his discovery that… this is how God loves us… and that such love is the beginning rather than the end of all helpful words, knowledge, understanding, faith, and the Spirit-given ability to give our attention to others?