As we continue our series on love, we look at 1 Corinthians 13:13, “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (NASB 1995) 1 Corinthians 13 is known as the “love chapter.” The chapter begins by telling us all the things that love is…patient, kind, not jealous, doesn’t brag, isn’t arrogant, doesn’t act unbecomingly, doesn’t seek its own, isn’t provoked, doesn’t keep a record of wrongs suffered, doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness, rejoices in truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…love never fails. (1 Corinthians 4-5a)
The Bible tells us that God is love. His character is love and He exercises the attribute of love as well. He loves us with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3) That means His love for us will never end. The description of love listed above is a description of God.
We are to love as God loves. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, His love comes to live inside us, giving us the ability to love as He does. We come to Christ by faith. Because we have put our faith and trust in Him, we have hope for our future, the hope of living with Him in Heaven one day because He has saved us from our sins, and because He gives us that hope, we love Him. When we will see Him face to face, we will no longer need our faith, because we will see Him. We will no longer need to hope for anything, it will be fulfilled, but love will last forever.
J. Vernon McGee, in his commentary on 1 Corinthians summarizes 1 Corinthians 13:13 in this way, “The object of our faith will be fulfilled. All our hopes will be realized. There will be nothing left to hope for; so hope will disappear. There will be no need for faith. However, love is going to abide. The greatest of these is love. Faith, hope, and love are the high words of the Christian vocabulary. In this chapter Paul is not describing an abstract term—love. He is writing a biography of Jesus Christ. Of Him it was written, ‘… having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end’ (John 13:1). The love of Jesus is an eternal love. My friend, Jesus Christ will never cease loving you.”
Jesus chooses to love us, and we must also make a conscious choice to love. Loving others is the greatest thing we can choose to do. When we choose to love, everything we do means something. 1 Corinthians 13:1 tells us, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” (NASB 1995)
We can do all kinds of great things, but if we aren’t showing love, then it is all meaningless. Allowing God’s love to be the basis for everything we do shows how much we care about others; it also speaks volumes to those who don’t know Christ. Unbelievers are attracted by the Godly love shown them, and it makes them want to know why we act as we do, why our attitudes are different from the rest of the world, why we don’t seek to make a name for ourselves when the rest of the world is climbing on the backs of others to get ahead. Love is what draws them to Jesus…your love for them, and His loving invitation to be part of His family.
As Believers, we must show His love to a lost and dying world, especially in the day in which we are living when so much hatred is being spewed out. The atmosphere of today’s world is anything but attractive. Allowing God’s love to shine forth can not only change your life, but it can also affect those around you and change the atmosphere in your part of the world. His love is everlasting and sweetens the hardest of hearts.
We need faith in Jesus to be a part of His family, and we need the hope He brings, but we must remember, the greatest of these is LOVE! Tap into His love and let it shine forth.