If I speak in tongues of human beings and of angels but I don’t have love, I’m a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and I know all the mysteries and everything else, and if I have such complete faith that I can move mountains but I don’t have love, I’m nothing. 3 If I give away everything that I have and hand over my own body to feel good about what I’ve done but I don’t have love, I receive no benefit whatsoever. 4 Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, 5 it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, 6 it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. 7 Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. As for prophecies, they will be brought to an end. As for tongues, they will stop. As for knowledge, it will be brought to an end. 9 We know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, what is partial will be brought to an end. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, reason like a child, think like a child. But now that I have become a man, I’ve put an end to childish things. 12 Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known. 13 Now faith, hope, and love remain—these three things—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 CEB
Love doesn’t seek its own advantage.
When my mom was dying, my daughter was giving birth. Everyone had an opinion about whether I should stay in Atlanta and be with my mom or come home to Richmond and be with my daughter. I chose option two. The only non-negotiable option for me was to make a decision based on NOT gaining a personal advantage. Personal advantage? How could that come into play here? Well, it does because no matter which decision I made, the various opinionators would have a variety of responses. I ultimately chose what my mother would have done in my position. She would have cared for the vulnerable living. She would have cared about a daughter who was coming to the finish line of a high risk pregnancy.
At the funeral, it was obvious to me that one of my family members had made it clear to people who were perfect strangers to me that I had made a poor decision. I heard it from various corners about what a disappointment I was as a daughter for not returning to Atlanta for the final few days of my mom’s life. Although sad, this was not an earth-shattering discovery for me. If we make decisions (to the best of our limited ability) NOT based on personal advantage, when ignorant people who are unaware of all the particulars that go into a decision accuse you of being whatever – it’s ok, the conscience is clear. This is why it is so important to make tough decisions with the aid of a community of people who share your own values and take time to listen to all the factors that go into making such a heart wrenching choice. It’s hard to make tough love calls under pressure. We do the best we can, but it cannot be about what makes us FEEL better.