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The way of perfection — love
1-11And the way I will show you is the way of perfection. I may have knowledge, but it is still fragmentary, I read as it were on a mirror the reflections which I cannot yet quite make out. I prophesy partially, not fully and perfectly, and so is it with other gifts of the kind, tongues and healing and so on. These are, as it were, but the infancy of the Spirit, its first faint babblings and lispings, but love is full, complete, perfect. Here and now it is the all-inclusive, towards which all these other gifts point, and when love is fully come, there will be an end of these partial utterances of the Spirit. Therefore love is above all things necessary. What are all these other gifts without it? What is the speaking with tongues, the utterances of men or angels, without it? Merely a repetition of the old religions with the clashing of cymbals and beating of gongs. And what does it avail to prophesy, to have an intellect which can grapple with all mysteries and knowledge, and to have so powerful a faith as to be able to work miracles with it, if love is not the crown, the aim, the end of it all? It is all worthless. And to give away all your possessions without love, and to embrace martyrdom and the stake without love — how empty, how vain and worthless! For love includes all that is good — all patience, kindness, tolerance, forbearance, faith and hope; and love is antidote to all evil, all jealousy, and boasting, all ugliness, selfishness, ill-temper, evil thinking. Love can never take any pleasure in these things, the joy of love comes from truth. And so it shall come to pass that all other things will change, pass, and be no more, but love will remain. All that is partial, imperfect, incomplete must have an end, but love will never fail. 12In that perfect day of love we shall see face to face, we shall know then as now we are known, 13and though now we see faith, hope and love, these three, abiding with us, the greatest of them is love.
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1Suppose I speak in the languages of human beings and of angels. If I don't have love, I am only a loud gong or a noisy cymbal. 2Suppose I have the gift of prophecy. Suppose I can understand all the secret things of God and know everything about him. And suppose I have enough faith to move mountains. If I don't have love, I am nothing at all. 3Suppose I give everything I have to poor people. And suppose I give my body to be burned. If I don't have love, I get nothing at all.
4Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not want what belongs to others. It does not brag. It is not proud. 5It is not rude. It does not look out for its own interests. It does not easily become angry. It does not keep track of other people's wrongs.
6Love is not happy with evil. But it is full of joy when the truth is spoken. 7It always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. It never gives up.
8Love never fails. But prophecy will pass away. Speaking in languages that had not been known before will end. And knowledge will pass away.
9What we know now is not complete. What we prophesy now is not perfect. 10But when what is perfect comes, the things that are not perfect will pass away.
11When I was a child, I talked like a child. I thought like a child. I had the understanding of a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
12Now we see only a dim likeness of things. It is as if we were seeing them in a mirror. But someday we will see clearly. We will see face to face. What I know now is not complete. But someday I will know completely, just as God knows me completely.
13The three most important things to have are faith, hope and love. But the greatest of them is love.