1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (NRSV)

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable; it keeps no record of wrongs; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. 


A lot of times during the wedding sermon, I’ll try to work in this joke: “I don’t want to start an argument with Paul, but it needs to be said: Sometimes love IS irritable.”

Reading over my shoulder tonight, Kate replied: “Ain’t that the truth. Hungry Joe….not great.”

And it’s true. No, I’m not. And I bet there are times that you aren’t either. Hungry, tired, before the first cup of coffee, stressed from work, annoyed by your offspring…in any family there are plenty of opportunities for irritability. You might say it’s an inevitability. You’ll never be able to perfectly avoid a tone or a word that comes out sharper than you wanted it to.

When that happens, do we sometimes rely too heavily on the latter part of verse 5 – “love keeps no record of wrongs”? In other words, do we just fall back on the requirement that our partners/ siblings/ children should forgive us? You can choose that route (many do), but I’m afraid your relationships will suffer for it.

Now, consider what happens if in that moment you also own verse 4 – “love is patient, love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude”? Challenged by the scripture, you consider what you SHOULD have said and how you SHOULD have said it. You apologize and ask forgiveness. And next time, you try to catch yourself before the sharp words escape your lips.

What I LOVE about this passage is that everyone has a responsibility. Love always means people working together on the relationship. We will likely never love as perfectly as Paul calls us to in this famous scripture – irritability is inevitable – but these words will always hold us accountable to God’s standard as we continue to grow.

by Joe Monahan

For Pondering & Prayer

Of these relationship essentials, which is the most difficult for you? Why?

  • Forgiving others
  • Being forgiven
  • Admitting the ways you’ve hurt others
  • Confronting others when they’ve hurt you

Prayer: God of love, in all my relationships help me to be honest with myself and others. Let me freely admit when I hurt or am hurt by someone I care about. And let me freely offer and accept forgiveness. In these ways, hold me to the standard of love that you have taught us. Amen.