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
The final item on the report card is that Love never fails. The first two words here are to the point and rendered exactly. But failing seems to be a much more complex idea. The word used could mean to descend from a higher place to a lower, to fall (either from or upon), to be thrust down; to descend from an erect to a prostrate position, to fall down, to be prostrated, fall prostrate; of those overcome by terror or astonishment or grief or under the attack of an evil spirit or of falling dead suddenly; the dismemberment of a corpse by decay; to prostrate one’s self; used of suppliants and persons rendering homage or worship to one; to fall out, fall from i.e. shall perish or be lost, to fall down, fall into ruin: of buildings, walls etc.; to be cast down from a state of prosperity; to fall from a state of uprightness; to perish, i.e come to an end, disappear, cease (of virtues); to lose authority, no longer have force (of sayings, precepts, etc.); to be removed from power by death; to fail of participating in, miss a share in. Some of that is obviously not true of God — He definitely descended from a higher place to a lower when He was born in Bethlehem and Jesus certainly did not participate in our sin (until He became sin for us, but that was less participation and more substitution) — and some of it should be considered.
The meanings that seem to best comport with the rest of scripture are perish or be lost; fall from a state of uprightness; come to an end, disappear, or cease. And it is these that I will consider this morning.
Love never perishes or is lost. I might render this as Love never dies. And, while Christ did die on the cross, He did not remain dead. As for me, I will die in a physical sense. There really is no way around that. But I need not die in a spiritual sense. The point of Christ’s death and resurrection; the whole reason Christ came to Earth was to save souls like mine from the spiritual death that is our inheritance. Jesus said, when praying to the Father, that He had not lost even one of those whom the Father had entrusted to Jesus. If I have entrusted myself to Christ, then I also will not be lost.
Love never falls from a state of uprightness. God never compromises His perfection. He has never been anything but perfect and He never will be. This brings me to a challenge: When I am in right standing with God, am I making efforts to remain so or am I allowing my state of uprightness to slip? This is not to say that I should be self-righteous, but that I should seek to remain right with God.
Love never ends, disappears, or ceases. These are definitely true of God, but how can I apply them to myself? I should be relying on God’s resources — His strength and endurance and patience and love — so that the resources on which I am drawing are never exhausted. I should be present wherever and whenever I happen to be. Too often, I find myself disappearing into some electronic device or “checking-out” into my thoughts. I should be relying on God’s endurance so that I can be one of those God speaks of through Isaiah: those who mount up on wings like eagles’; who run without wearying; who walk without fainting.
May I regularly check back with this report card and see what progress God is making in and through me to conform me to the image of His Son.