First Corinthians Thirteen: A Youth’s Paraphrase of the Love Chapter

(First written in 1979. Revised January 13, 2005)

Even if I could speak in front of a huge crowd (without getting butterflies in my stomach, having a mental block, and knocking my knees together in fright), applying all the principles and methods I’ve learned in Speech Laboratory, or be known in school as the best orator and debater…

…It wouldn’t matter, when I don’t even have the guts and love to witness to my friends, classmates, and teachers.

I’d just be chattering like a parrot, blowing a lot of hot air and making a perfect fool of myself.

And so what if I could understand seemingly meaningless squiggles in my Calculus textbook and can give the correct answer in my Philosophy class when called upon while I was actually preoccupied: day-dreaming, reading a novel, texting my best friend, or writing a love note.

If I could take an exam in Microbiology without studying and get a perfect score…

…And yet I love others as much as I love mathematics (ugh!),

Then I’m no better than an idiot.

What’s the use of treating my barkada at the school canteen,

telling “friends” my secrets at the risk of having them spread,

letting others take advantage of me while I play the martyr…

…If I don’t even take the time to share my love, and even more, God’s love to them,

then all my sacrifice and generosity would have no meaning. I’d be a hero for


Since LOVE seems to be so vital, what is it all about anyway?

Love takes a lot of PATIENCE (and when I say “a lot,” I mean a lot!), like a guy who waits what seems to be a hopeless forever for a positive response from the girl he’s pursuing. He doesn’t give up easily—even if he has already sent bouquets of velvet-red roses, boxes of chocolates, and millions of text messages… only to be snubbed at in return.

It means being NICE, or at least polite enough to someone you don’t particularly like—especially if it’s an admirer who’s a pain-in-the-neck.

Love is NOT turning green with JEALOUSY when you see your heartthrob eyeing someone else, or worse, catching your Honey and your best friend flirting with each other. (Some “friend,” huh?)

Love is NOT CONCEITED and will not allow things to go to your head, making you think you can walk around with your nose up in the air if you’re the “Number One” in class, the envy of your peers and the target of several admirers.

Love doesn’t jump to wrong conclusions, hastily believing rumors. No, it gives the person concerned a chance to tell his side of the story. It isn’t being malicious in thinking, nor does it go about gossiping—destroying reputations and indulging in character assassination.

Love is NOT STINGY, but gives without asking or expecting anything in return (“no strings attached”).

Love ACCEPTS others as they are—blunders and all, remembering all the while that you’re far from being perfect yourself. It does NOT TAKE ADVANTAGE of others just because they’re too nice to say “no.”

It is NOT being hyper SENSITIVE when others joke about, point out, or comment on things you’re touchy about: your defects, weaknesses, wrong attitudes or ideas.

It is being able to heartily congratulate a rival who is awarded the honor you’ve sweated out to get…but doesn’t snicker or secretly applaud when the same gets into trouble with the dean.

Love is SWALLOWING your PRIDE and getting a hold of yourself when the one you love is hurting you, and your first impulse is to hit back.

Love means to BELIEVE in the one you love, no matter what he/she says or does that may seem contradictory to the truth. It is giving him/her the benefit of the doubt. It would mean giving a second chance—and a third, a fourth, a fifth, etc.

Love EXPECTS only the BEST of him/her (especially if s/he is the best!).

Love DOESN”T necessarily mean PLEASING EVERBODY, because that’s impossible. You could end up in a mental institution just for attempting that. On the other hand, you shouldn’t please only yourself in making decisions. You’d be crazy to trust your roller-coaster feelings.

Right now things like brains: topping the exams, being candidate for summa cum laude; body: maintaining a pleasing figure; beauty: being attractive inside and outside—may seem important…at least to gain popularity and attention. But sooner or later, even these will lose their meaning. You might think you know a lot (maybe even too much for your own good), but it’s never enough. You may have everything going for you and have more than you need or deserve—but still you’ll be looking for something else.

One of these days (soon, we hope) when Jesus comes back, everything that seemed to make your world turn would be considered trivial—compared to what He has to offer. Then, you wouldn’t be contented with anything less.

You might remember when you were still a young child…you always thought about “what you’re going to be when you grow up,” wishing you were old enough to wear high-heeled shoes and make-up [for guys: shave and drive a car] and date. You thought it was a big deal then. But now you even take these for granted. You also used to think that maybe the “birds and the bees” was some kind of game (like the “slides and ladders”), and you couldn’t quite understand why you weren’t allowed to play it. As you look back, you just laugh at yourself for being so silly and naïve.

Your spiritual vision as of now isn’t 20-20. In fact, it’s rather blurred. You have a hard time making out the images in front of you. The form is there, but the details are out of focus. There are still so many questions you’d like to ask. But then, it won’t be long until Jesus will come into full view with all His splendor and glory. Then you won’t be thinking of your inquiries anymore—but be filled with awe and adoration.

A lot of things in life come and go. Some you hold onto too tightly, thinking they might be important. Others you let go, taking them for granted. There will be things that mean more and those that won’t even matter. True, you may acquire what the world says really counts; what it takes to survive and make it in this planet. But again, take LOVE out of it all and you’ve got nothing.


Author: nrdna

God's servant, PK (pastor's kid), PW (pastor's wife), PM (pastor's mom), youth ministry for life (YM4L), seminary prof, freelance writer, seminar/workshop facilitator, nature lover, green thumb, serial reader, bibliovore, cinemaphile

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