“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Paul had a great way to list three important things, listing one as “the greatest”, without really diminishing the importance of the others. In my mind, I think the easiest way to look at this is to start breaking down each of these words…faith, hope and love.
First, I notice that it says these three abide, or in other versions, they remain. No matter what goes on, who said what, what the law says, how rich or poor we may be…there is still faith, there is still hope and there is still love. No matter what, they will never be out of style, dysfunctional or illegal.
Now, quickly, let’s take a brief peek at faith and hope.
In its simplest definition, faith is belief. However, in my studies, it is not the level of belief which is just mental assent. Faith is belief that is completed by action. This makes the scripture, “Faith without works, is dead”, make some sense. Faith can only be complete, or alive, by acting upon it. And, even then, it is based on what the Lord says – not on what we conjure up and stamp the Lord’s name on.
One friend of mine put it this way…hope is the emotion of faith. It has been defined as joyful expectation. It is not a wish, as we so often use it, like, “Hope to see ya soon”, or, “I sure hope you feel better.”. Hope is really based on what has been set to happen. When the woman is expecting, she has hope for a new baby. When God makes a promise, we have hope in the manifestation of what He promised.
Why Love is the Greatest.
Looking up the word, greatest, in the Greek, it comes out to be…hang on to your seats…greatest. Didn’t expect that, did ya? Other than that, the idea of being most important came across.
The beginning of this chapter mentioned how whatever we do, without love, there is useless noise or activity. Love is the utmost importance. In 1 John 4, we read, “…God is love.”
We can remember why Jesus came to Earth..”For God so LOVED the world…”
Love is the nucleus of all the stuff…and more…in Chapter 13. Love should be at the nucleus of all we do.
Love brings us mercy.
Love brings us grace.
Love gives of oneself. For instance…”Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave HIMSELF up…”. When the crowds came after a tired and worn Jesus, He stopped and spent time to heal and teach them. He had compassion on them.
Compassion is borne out of love.
People are built to give and receive love. In this broken world, there are too many who have been denied love for any manner of reasons. Who will give them the love they need? Who has enough love to give them? It should be those of us who know how much God loves us all.
Once we acknowledge and embrace His love for us and rely upon Him to allow His love to work through us, we have an infinite amount of love to share. Actually, most of us know that love has a bottomless supply. But, we somehow tend to run out of it…as our patience wears out, as we neglect being kind, start becoming arrogant…you get the picture.
Jesus never did. Well, as God in the flesh, no wonder. But, He lives in us, so (humanness notwithstanding) we can love much because He loves much. he said He would never leave nor forsake and said He would leave The Comforter and we are also told that our bodies are a “temple of the Holy Spirit”. So, yeah…He lives in us. His love can shine through.
His love is with no condition. There is no perfection required. For that matter, there is no gettin’ nothin’ right required. We don’t have to change to please Him or get Him to love us more. We cannot impress Him.
No matter how we dress, speak, look, walk, think, act, make decisions, no matter who we hang out with, what we drive, where we live, where we were born, whether we live in poverty or wealth, if we are good looking or not…we are loved. All of us.
All of us. Everyone. It’s just that not everyone knows it.
We need to be that love. We need to be Jesus to people.
We don’t need to be the next preaching dynamo or the super spiritually gifted tongue-speaking prophet of the ages. Without love, all that stuff is, frankly, garbage. Honestly, I feel there are those who use these gifts on their own steam in order to impress and compel people, to essentially “sell” the Gospel, too often for personal gain. This is not love.
Love seeks to bless others. Love does not seek its own. Love puts others before self. “ It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
The greatest is love.