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Why Love Is The Greatest Gift

1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Have you ever wondered why the greatest is love? Yes, there are some fairly obvious theological reasons, but practically speaking, why would God’s kind of love be the greatest of these three eternal gifts? The Bible is very clear that for Christians, love should inform all that we say and do. The reason is if it’s not loving, it’s not God. Therefore God’s love is our source for all we do, it is the motivation for all we do and it is what informs the ethics of our lives. God’s Word also informs us that of all the things we can be known for, the most important is to be known for our love. But not just love in an esoteric or vague kind of way. Anybody can say they love in a broad, undefined way because it is unquantifiable and unable to be verified. But God’s love is obvious and extravagant. God’s love is also not self-love. We hear so much about self-care and self-love that we can tend to forget that God’s love is centered. Without an object for our love outside of ourselves, it is a selfish love that is not indicative of God’s love. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object. This is part of the reason it is the greatest gift we have been given. Theologically love is greater than faith and hope in that both faith and hope depend on love for their existence. True faith and genuine hope do not exist without God’s love. Faith and hope are dead if not accompanied by love. John Calvin says love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor but love always benefits another. I experienced this in a practical way this past few weeks as I spent time in small groups with men and women that I have been on a journey within our small home churches the past two-plus years. In years one and two we would have some lively discussions about theological issues and practical ministry issues. But this year I noticed a lot more listening and far less arguing. Here’s my simple explanation of why. Love. We have gotten to know each other and love each other more deeply to the point that our relationships meant more than our opinions. Even if they were strongly held beliefs, our love for each other kept us from making it a divisive or maybe better said, unloving issue. I want to encourage you to love God and one another relentlessly. As one of my spiritual leaders said, “there is no such thing as too loving.” Don’t be afraid to love inexplicably so that when others see and ask you can give them the explanation. It is the love of Christ being poured out through me. Let’s express the greatest gift we have been given, let’s love.

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