The Greatest of These is Love

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 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 have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.  .  .  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13: 1 – 3; 13

Happy Valentine’s Day! May you feel much loved on this day and share your love for others!

There is no other topic that has been written about more through the ages than love – romantic love, love for family and friends, the importance of sharing our love and blessings with others, and even love for self. Some have described this powerful and amazing emotion, and the greatest gift we can ever experience in life so eloquently, but nowhere can love be expressed more beautifully than in God’s Word in 1 Corinthians 13.

Most of us are very familiar with the verses that are spoken at weddings about “love being patient, kind, and never boasting nor rude, never self-seeking, easily angered, nor proud. It reminds us that it doesn’t keep score of wrongs, and it always protects our hearts and always perseveres.”

These characteristics of love can and should apply for any and all of our relationships, for we know God desires us to love and be loved. But this passage above from verses 1 – 3 is probably much less familiar, but just as significant. What truth could be greater than the words, “without love, I am nothing.” 

Paul writes that even if we were so blessed that we could speak with the greatest eloquence in every language – even in the heavenly language of angels – or had many spiritual gifts and didn’t have love, then our lives would be as useless as the ridiculous banging of the gongs or cymbals outside the pagan temples to awaken non-existent gods during ancient times. By doing so, the people wanted to ensure that the gods would hear and answer their prayers. How amazing that we never have to be concerned about whether our God is awake and listening! With what ease and confidence we can go before His throne of grace in prayer.

Paul goes on to express that love is more important than the deepest knowledge and wisdom we could obtain, more important than the most abiding faith in Christ we could have, more important than all the generosity for others we could possess, and more important than all the accomplishments we could carry out for God’s kingdom, even being martyred in His name. When all else fails us in life, we have 3 things that remain: “faith, hope, and love.” 

But even more significant than faith or hope, loving unselfishly with our entire being and loving as Jesus loved, is our greatest calling. Without it, we have nothing. Our lives have no meaning. Even if we do everything a devoted Christian is expected to do and live the life we should, without love it is useless and in vain. For God commands one thing of us and that is to love Him and all others we come into contact with, and even those we don’t know, who may need a loving hand.

Mother Teresa said it so well when she said, “Love that is real must cost. It must hurt. It must empty us of self.” And what rewards we receive when we do, for we receive much love in return. What greater gift could there be!

*Meaningful quotes from other spiritual sources:

 “Love should always see the best in us.”

“For unless love becomes visible, it is no love at all.”

“In challenging times in our relationships, we should always go back to doing and saying the things that we used to do and say when we loved this person the most.” 

“You may have the right words to say and you may communicate them flawlessly, but without love your words are silent.”

“Love always wants what is best for the other person.”

“Imagine being so plugged into God that everything you say is what God would say.” 

Prayer

Our most gracious and loving God, we love you and give you all honor, glory, and praise. Thank you for showing us how to love, for teaching us through your Word, and for loving us and showering us with so many blessings. Thank you for the loved ones you have placed in our lives and for the memories we have shared together. But most of all, thank you for loving us so much that you would send your Son – the most wonderful gift of love ever given. Amen

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