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1 Corinthians 13:1-13

You can read the text here.

Here Paul defines 'the better way,' the way of love. For Paul, love is the enactment of a disposition or inward orientation, an orientation focused outward towards others and their benefit. Whatever one does whether speaking in tongues, great deeds of faith, giving away one's money, no matter how hyperbolic,[1] if it isn't rooted in love, in other regard, it's worthless. It does not make one pleasing God, especially if its done to draw attention to oneself.

Paul then explicates what is at the heart of love. Here I will cite Thiselton's translation of the paragraph as it captures it so well:
Love waits patiently; love shows kindness. Love does not burn with envy; does not brag - is not inflated with its own importance. It does not behave with ill-mannered impropriety; it is not preoccupied with the interests of the self; does not become exasperated into pique; does not keep a reckoning up with evil. Love does not take pleasure in wrongdoing, but joyfully celebrates the truth. It never tires of support, never loses faith, never exhausts hope, never gives up.
Compared with the standard translations, Thiselton's translation draws out the activeness of love. It's not just having a certain disposition, it's acting in an other-oriented fashion.

Love is worth pursuing because it's something that will have lasting effect, not just now, but in the age to come. The gifts of the Spirit will cease because they will no longer be needed after the return of Christ. But we will still have each other, so there will always be a need for love. Every aspect of our Christian existence is either temporary or a foretaste of what's to come. Even among the cardinal virtues of faith/faithfulness/fidelity, hope, and love, only love is supreme and will endure in a manner largely unchanged after Jesus return.

[1] Ciampa and Rosner are helpful in pointing out Paul's use of hyperbole.

[2] Thiselton and Ciampa and Rosner are on different pages on this last verse. It's worth reading both perspectives.


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