The Definition of Love

I wanted to post a Christmas message last year, but I got swamped under the wrapping paper and tinsel of Colombo’s crazy Christmas season. (If you have friends of marriageable age, it can really leave you exhausted if you don’t watch yourself, what with all the stag nights, weddings and homecomings, in addition to spending time with returning relatives and friends, office parties, Christmas lunches and dinners and church events. Not that I have done church events in the last few years, mind you.

Now I find myself at work, having to work an unplanned Christmas Eve morning at office. I am going to leave after publishing this post and I am looking forward to driving off with my father’s first cousin and my second cousin’s ex to join the rest of our family in a quiet lakeside resort outside Colombo. 

It’s Christmas tradition that this wing of my family gets away every year to the same chilled out resort by the lake. We bring our friends as well, and often the group is more than thirty strong. There are obviously the familiar faces, but there are always a few new ones – long lost relatives down from abroad, family friends who just want to get away and the like. It’s brilliant. Everyone just wants to have a good time and their idea of a good time is very similar, generally involving healthy helpings of good spirits (hic), good food, gambling, wildlife, singing, dancing and, er, cross-dressing.  (Okay, maybe the cross dressing part is only Aunite B, and possibly Uncle M, depending on whether or not you include wearing a nappy and sucking on a feeding bottle in your definition of cross-dressing).

This branch of my family is like that. 

Anyway this post was not meant to be about my family. It is about the definition of love.

The best definition of love I have come across is from Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians, which is a book in the New Testament of the Bible. Even though I don’t believe in a mainstream Christian idea of a personal god, I can still appreciate some things about the Bible, and this is one of my favourite verses. If I say I love someone, I generally try and treat them by these guidelines. Obviously, I usually miserably fail, but this is the benchmark.

Have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

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Here are two versions of that passage. I will post the King James and the New International Version. I prefer the King James because I love the language.

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1: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2: And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3: And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4: Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5: Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6: Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7: Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8: Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9: For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10: But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11: When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12: For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13: And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
1 Corinthians 13, King James Version

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1 If I speak in human or angelic tongues, [a] 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 do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body [to hardship] that I may boast, [b] but do not have 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 does not dishonor others, 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 completeness comes, what is in part 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 the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a 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. 1 Corinthians 13, The New International Version

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