“And now abides Faith, Hope, Love—these three; but the greatest of these is Love.”
I Corinthians 13:13
With it we can move mountains and melt hearts; without it everything we do and say are in vain.
Agape-love. A God-type Love. A Love that gives with no thought of anything in return. A love that thinks of others before itself and “loves others in the same way it’s received Love” (Jn. 13:34).
That’s what Paul’s talking about in today’s Manna. The new church in Corinth was a dysfunctional and divided church. They were arguing over which one of their preachers was the greatest (1:11-12). There was “envying, strife and division among them” (3:3). There was an on-going incestuous relationship in the congregation that was going unchecked (5:1-8). One member was suing another in court (6:1-11). There was sexual immorality among some of the members (6:12-19). There was judging and criticizing (8:1-13). There was an abuse of the Lord’s Supper (11:17-34). There was a debate about which spiritual gifts were superior to others (12:1-31; 14:1-40). There were some who even questioned Paul’s teaching on Christ’s Resurrection (15:12-19).
But, their biggest problem was the same as it is today in so many churches, families and relationships:
A lack of love.
That’s why Paul wrote about what true Love is and isn’t in I Cor. 13. And, his straightforward description is truly worthy of our hearing and heeding:
“Love is patient and kind. It doesn’t envy, push itself forward to get puffed up with pride. It doesn’t rejoice in sin, but rejoices in the truth. It hangs in there when it’d be easy to quit, believes the best in others, hangs onto Hope when it’d be so easy to give up and will never fail to come through when other things have fallen by the wayside” (vv.4-8).
Paul points out how eloquence, education and enlightenment are worthless when Love is lacking (vv.1-2). And, all of our benevolent deeds—and even our being martyred for the faith—are in vain if done for any other reason than showing Christ’s Love (v.3).
True, Christlike Love realizes its inability to clearly see and understand everything (v.9), but lives in the confident assurance that one of these days everything will be made right (v.10). And, this Love always lives in childlike faith while putting away childish ways (vv.11-12).
And, in true Pauline fashion, the aged Apostle reminds us that there are three spiritual Gifts still in operation today: Faith, Hope and Love. But, one of these days Faith and Hope will be fade away for we’ll finally see our blessed Savior face-to-Face and have no further need of them. Yet, His Love will continue on for all eternity in that lovely Land that is fairer than day. How sweet it shall be when we “love one another as He has loved us” (Jn. 13:34). May the Holy Spirit help us show that type Love today to everyone we meet.
By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated November 13, 2010