And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. ~1 Corinthians 13:13
First Corinthians 13 has been labeled “the love chapter.” The Greek word for love or charity refers to God’s uninhibited and boundless love. It is loving as God loves. It is the highest virtue of the spiritual life that incorporates God’s holiness in its attributes. Of the three virtues of faith, hope, and charity, the greatest is love.
We see the preeminence.
God has classified love as being the first and the greatest of the spiritual virtues. It is the first of the fruit of the Spirit. It is the embodiment of the great commandment, which commands us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind. It is the embodiment of the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. Love is to be the overruling virtue with which we are filled, overflowing, and exercising in all of our relationships. Faith is important, but it is not greater than love. Hope is important, but it is not greater than love. Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:2, “Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us.”
We see the performance.
Love is longsuffering, kind, not envious, not conceited, not boastful, not improper, not selfish, not easily provoked, and not evil-minded. Love does not rejoice in sin but in the truth, has faith, has hope, is optimistic, and endures all things. Love does not have limitations or conditions by which it is lived out. Love is relational. Love is respectful. Love is restorative. Love looks past the faults of others and sees hope. Love does not hold grudges and is not unforgiving or antagonistic. Love is always in action. It is being to others what God is always to us.
We see the patience.
One word that underscores love is patience. Love is patient with others under all circumstances. That is how God is to us. If God was as impatient with us as we are to others, we would be in a lot of trouble. Incredibly, love endures all things. Recently, an island country experienced a devastating 7.2-magnitude earthquake. Meteorologists have told the people to brace for a hurricane-type storm that is coming. The survivors on the island have to endure in order to make it. We can be betrayed, hurt, and rejected, but in love, we can endure all things.
We see the power.
Love never fails. It is powerful. It is incredibly forgiving. It overcomes our fears. The model of love is when Jesus gave His life as a sacrifice and as the perfect substitute for the sin of this world. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God’s love gave us the ultimate sacrifice to pay the required price for our sins. God’s love accepts every sinner who repents of his sin and calls on the Lord to save him. Love, in its power, reconciles the sinner to God. Love, in its power, is inseparable. The love of God working through us is how God can change this world.
We see the perfecting.
"Perfect love casteth out fear." Love, working in us, grows and matures us. Perfect love is loving just as God loves. It is time we stop blaming our upbringing, our parents, our background, or whatever else from our past for our inability to love. Love’s power can change and perfect us in being servants of God who can work with any personality and conquer hearts that need the Lord. Love is the greatest. Is it the greatest in your life?
Have a love-filled God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Jeremiah 26-29