Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Greatest Of All

This morning, before I left for work, I was reading a passage from the writings of the Apostle Paul. It is the famous "love" passage. The good ol' King James translation - from which I'm about to quote - uses the word charity, but I think most of the newer translations use love here; therefore, I am going make the substitution:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.

Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love (I Corinthians 13:1-13).
I mulled over that passage today while I was on my job.

I tend to think a lot - maybe the majority - of my Christian friends might think faith is the mightiest weapon in their arsenals. Yet, Paul said love was greater. The greatest, to be precise. Piety without love, plainly speaking, ain't piety.

And I rather get a kick out of what the apostle says in that first verse. I know, and I'm sure most of you do, too, a lot of folks who play loudly in the orchestra, but are lacking in the love department. Their own Holy Books condemns them.

Now my thinking is - and for a long time has been - that I don't care what religion a person adheres to, it is just so much posturing if it doesn't produce good, kind behavior. In other words, I'm just not at all impressed by those folks who have not partaken of the "milk of human kindness."

And I'm not slighting my friends who are not religious. I don't think you have to believe in gods to believe in the power of love. But I say I really appreciate the humanist nonbelievers.

"But Doug, I thought you didn't believe the Bible." How many times have I heard that?

Actually, I can't convince myself that the true God wrote that little book called the Bible - or any other of those kinds of books. I may be wrong, but it is something I just can't force myself to believe. However, that is a long way from saying I find nothing of value there, or in the other scriptures of the world's religions.  I've slaked my thirst at many wells. When I find good water, I drink it. And when it stinks or looks polluted, I pass. (Yeah, yeah, I know some water looks and smells fine and is still full of nasty little microbes that will do a body harm; but let's not press analogies to extremes.)

I tend to divide humanity along the lines of those who care and those who don't. Why bog down over trivial matters?


  1. Human kindness . . . what a concept eh? I skipped the scriptures but I well remember the passage. (For me I skip it because of trauma stuff, I should write about it but I don't. Maybe one day.) :-)

  2. @ Zoe,

    I hope that day will come soon. I once went through a period of great pain thinking back on my religious past. But once I finally made peace with myself, I was able to reflect and find the good among the bad and concentrate more on that.