It is the one thing a human soul needs most. It is perhaps the most overused and least understood word in our language. I am speaking, of course, of love. In our culture, we speak of it all the time but we throw the word and the concept around very cheaply.
I love hamburgers. I love the mountains. I love my wife. I love God (hopefully not in equal measure). It is an ever-present theme of songs, poems, books and blogs in every culture throughout all of history.
Everybody longs for it. Everybody has been hurt in pursuit of it, but still acknowledges their need for it. The Beatles sang, “All You Need is Love”, but then they broke up.
1 Corinthians 13 is the classic chapter in the Bible that speaks about love. Many people have this passage on a decorative plaque on their wall or had it read at their wedding, but blessed is the person who is actually walking this out in their life. In this chapter Paul is saying there are many great things – honorable things we could live our lives for – but the greatest of all these things is love.
Love is greater than any spiritual gift or power working in my life. It is greater than what I believe. It is greater than what I know. It is greater than any good work I might perform, or sacrifice I might make. It is greater than all I can hope for.
At different times in my life I have been made aware, by the work of the Holy Spirit, of certain important aspects of love. I often write these down so I will not forget them, and I want to share a few of them with you in this blog. These are a few reasons why love is the greatest thing:
Loving God and loving people fulfills all requirements that God has for us.
Loving God (relationship) and loving people (mission) is the core of what it means to follow Christ.
We are able to love Him and others because He first loved us.
There is one true happiness in life: to love and be loved.
One important part of knowing what to do in a situation is asking the question, “What does love look like here, in this moment?”
Nothing that I love will become what I desire for it to be tomorrow unless I love it as it is today.
Success in life is not about knowing a lot of things or doing things well – it is, in the end, about loving well.
Every day we judge people as either worthy of our love or unworthy of our love, and we respond accordingly.
Repentance is all about love. God’s love for us compels him to call us to repent from the sin that hurts us. Our love for him causes us to drop our sin (because we know it breaks his heart) and pursue him because he is supremely better than that sin. Morality is secondary, relationship is primary.
Love is the greatest transforming power in the universe. It is not possible to say it any better than Paul did, by the inspiration of the Spirit:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8,13