1 Corinthians 13
New International Version (NIV)
1 Corinthians 13
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor or surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 For now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
The moment that you realize you are morally and spiritually bankrupt or, perhaps, more like impoverished (along the lines of poor, blind, pitiful and naked), is the moment that you have looked in the mirror and not liked the person staring back at you. It is the time you recognize that possess little faith, and less hope, and still less the type of love spoken of in this passage you are able to recite word for word from memory. You realize you want to be worthy, or made worthy, not worthy of believing what you have in the past professed, but worthy of having once believed; you want to have been transformed into a worthy personage, now meriting divine love. You know that underneath it all you are angry, embittered about the failure of the contract you thought you had written in stone by the finger of God. You acknowledge you are in desperate need of grace, but you don't know if you can accept it from a God who you have failed to love with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. In the end the person staring back at you is a person who is not worthy, but who might be able to accept a free gift, a person who could potentially possess purified gold, but who at the moment remains wretched.