THE GREATEST THING
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13:13)
We call 1 Corinthians the “Love Chapter” because it is the greatest description of love found anywhere. Love is described as being superior to anything else on earth or any human experience. God’s love (agape) is greater than spiritual gifts, acts of charity, and even martyrdom. God’s love is described as even greater than faith and hope. And why is that? It’s because there will be no need for spiritual gifts in heaven because we will be complete in Christ. There will be no need for acts of charity in heaven because the saints will have no needs. There is no death in heaven so a person won’t be able to lay down his life for the Lord or others. Faith and hope won’t even be needed because they are means to an end and we will have already met the ultimate end by being in God’s presence forever. So what’s left? It’s love! God’s love will endure forever and that’s why love is the greatest thing. Everything else will pass, even things that are so helpful now. This means that love should be the highest pursuit of us all. It is the greatest thing, the most enduring thing, the most helpful thing, and one thing that represents God the most because the Bible declares “God is love” (1 John 4:8). And that’s why Jesus told us the greatest commandment is to love God with all your being and to love your neighbor as you love yourself (Mat 22:36-40).
What a supreme definition of love and a whole lot better than any definition on earth. Better than any noble poet could inscribe. Better than the loftiness of Shakespeare. Better than Hollywood, i.e., “Love is never having to say you’re sorry”. And a whole lot better than the top forty, such as “Yummy, yummy, yummy, I’ve got love in my tummy!” Love is not a feeling but a fact. Love is not only a noun, but also a verb, or something you do. God’s love will reach out when it is not loved back. This love compelled Jesus to Calvary. This love held Jesus to the cross more than Roman spikes. This love raised Jesus from the grave. This love pursues each human being on earth with an offer of an incredible relationship with the God of the universe. This love is free and this love is forever. This love can forgive the offenses of others. This love can heal a marriage. This love can mend a broken heart. And this love is the healing balm of the world.
(1 John 3:1) Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!
(1 John 4:11) Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.