Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
–1 Corinthians 13:8
Throughout 1 Corinthians 13, you can feel the crescendo building as Paul listed all these characteristics of love. Then the chapter reaches its climax in verse 8: “Love never fails.” That is a beautiful thought, isn’t it? Too bad it is not true–or at least, it does not seem to be true. I am sure you can think of instances in which love has failed: A man or woman leaves a marriage in spite of the love of their mate. A rebellious child leaves a home in spite of the love of their family. A sinner resists the gospel in spite of the love of God.
But this passage is not about the success of love; it is about the eternality of love. Remember, the context here is spiritual gifts. Paul was saying one day, there will be no need for prophecy or knowledge or the gift of tongues. As important as faith is, there will be a day when even faith is useless. Do you know when that day will be? When we are in heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ. There will be no need for faith; we will see everything as it is. There will be no need for hope; our hope will be fulfilled. But there is one quality that will remain: love. Love is eternal because God is eternal, and the Bible says God is love.
Of course, the greatest demonstration of love is this: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The story is told of a soldier who was sentenced to death under the reign of Oliver Cromwell. The court said, “He will die tonight when the curfew bell rings.” When evening came, the verger pulled the rope to ring the bell, but there was no sound. It turns out the soldier’s lover had climbed the belltower and grabbed the clapper with her hands to keep it from clanging against the bell. And as the verger pulled the rope, the girl’s hands were battered against the interior of that bell, back and forth, until they were broken and bruised. Finally, when the verger had given up, the girl climbed down and made her way to Cromwell, and she begged for mercy for her beloved. Poet Rose Hartwick Thorpe wrote these lines about the scene: “At his feet she tells her story, shows her hands, all bruised and torn; and her sweet young face, still haggard, with the anguish it had worn, touched his heart with sudden pity, lit his eyes with misty light. ‘Go! Your lover lives,’ said Cromwell. ‘Curfew shall not ring to-night!’”
Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ climbed up Mount Calvary. His hands were nailed to a cross, and He took the punishment you and I deserve for our sins. The prophet Isaiah said it this way: “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed” (53:5). That is a love that will never fail.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Love Connection” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.
Story adapted from “Love and Loyalty,” Peterson’s Magazine, vol. 47, January-June 1865, 185-94; Rose Hartwick Thorpe, “Curfew Must Not Ring To-Night” (Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1883), 28-31.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.