Have, Hold, Love!

By Tony and Janet Tench

“If I… but do not have love.” 1 Corinthians 13:1,2,3,13

“To have and to hold” brings to mind a bride and groom listening to a pastor ask them questions of intent during their wedding ceremony with their hands clasped firmly together. “Have” and “hold” are words that primarily describe what is in your hands – what is “out front” in your life.

Paul’s use of these words in the famous “love chapter” in the Bible reveal this aspect of love – it’s to be out front, leading the way (not buried somewhere within us). In these verses in English, we hear Paul leading with the negative, “…but do not have love.” But that is not what jumps out from the Greek verse. Greek is an inflective language which means a word’s ending tells how the word functions in the sentence. Because of this, word order is less important which means a writer could bring a word to the front of a sentence or phrase to emphasize it even though it might fit grammatically elsewhere in the thought being conveyed. This is what Paul does in these verses. His sentence in Greek is ordered like this: “love but not I have.” In all three verses, he brings love to the front of the phrase because “having and holding love” out in front of us is the way we are to come at life, on our wedding days and every day!

Our grandchildren teach us this lesson every single time we see them. When we pull up in their driveway, Mattie and Jase come running to the door and jump up and down with huge smiles on their faces and with shrieks we can hear from the yard. Once, we met Erin and Matt in Anderson, SC and the kids didn’t know we were going to be there. As they got out of the car and saw us Mattie came running to “MiMommy” and Jase started jumping in his Dad’s arms until he got to us. These grands “have and hold” their love out front so that it is so easy for them to give it to us… and it makes our day every time.

That’s Paul’s idea in the “love chapter.” We are to “have love” out front in our lives so that it is ready to be given away to folks we meet. But, more than that, you remember how the chapter ends, right? The last word is “love.” Yes, Paul’s point here is that love is to lead the way and love is to be the last word on the way. That’s a recipe that “makes the day” for our neighbors in Shelby, Cleveland County, and beyond.

The last two times Mattie has been to our house, she has found a way, without our knowledge, to draw a picture for each of us and place them strategically on the pillows of our bed right before they head back home. She makes no fanfare of it and she does it secretly so that we find them only after she is gone. These grands are teaching us what the scripture lays out for us: Wherever we go, we are to have love “out front” of our days, hold love so that it can be given away readily, and then let “love” be the last word in the way we live.


Father, these days in our nation and community need your love to be alive through us. Help us to be ready to give that love to those you bring our way – out front and at the end, all day, every day. Amen.