The Greatest of These Is Love

Over the past number of years I’ve officiated quite a few weddings. In many of these ceremonies I’ve chosen—and been requested—to read from 1 Corinthians 13, the famous “love chapter” in the New Testament. Love is patient, love is kind…

It really is a great passage of Scripture to read during a marriage celebration.  But the application of this text goes way beyond matrimony. The overarching message of the Bible and the central theme of the Gospel message is the incomprehensible love of God. And the identifying mark of believers should be that we, too, demonstrate this type of love to the world.

1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love is greater than hope. And it’s greater than faith. It tells us that love is greater than prophecy, or generosity, or speaking in tongues, or even martyrdom.

Galatians 5 says that the fruit of the Spirit is love. I read a theologian explain that since the Bible doesn’t say the “fruits” (plural) of the Spirit, but the “fruit” (singular) of the Spirit, that love is actually the only fruit of the Spirit.  The other eight attributes, (joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance) actually describe genuine love.

Jesus says that the entire law and the prophets can be summed up like this, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind, soul and strength and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:38-40). Think about that!  Jesus is saying that the entire Old Testament can be paraphrased, “Love God and love people.”

I personally know people who can quote great portions and passages of the Bible but are mean as rattlesnakes. I know people who keep all kinds of rules and regulations in an attempt to be “holy” but they’re judgmental and legalistic.

Truthfully, it would behoove me to look in the mirror more regularly to see how I miss the mark and fail—so often—to love people like Jesus loves.

Join me this week in taking a hard look at how we’re doing in this area. The Bible says, “if you say ‘I love God’ but hate your brother or sister, you’re a liar” (1 John 4:20).  It’s so easy to say we love God, but the truth is we don’t love God any more than we love people. How we love people is how we love God. The ultimate way we express our love to God is by loving people. Co-workers. Neighbors. Family members. Friends. Strangers. And I’ve learned that sometimes it’s actually easier to demonstrate kindness, love and respect to strangers than it is to our closest family members or friends whom we tend to take for granted.

“It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.” – Billy Graham