The Greatest of These is Love

I Thessalonians 5:8 NKJ But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.
I Corinthians 13:13 NKJ And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

We are going to go through the thirteenth chapter of Corinthians and make a comment here and there. John, in his epistle, said, ďGod is loveĒ (I John 4:8). He also said, ďWe love Him, because He first loved usĒ (I John 4:19). Then Paul in verse 13 says that faith, hope, and love abide. They are living entities, but the greatest of these is love. Now if I asked you to give me a definition of Godís love, I am sure you could. However, our walk doesnít always express His love. We tend to forget in our everyday living to express His love.

The Greek word for love here is agape. Agape love is divine love as opposed to love that is of man. Manís love is not the same thing. John points out that ďwe love Him because He first loved us.Ē In other words, we should receive His love, assimilate it and love Him back with the same love. Love that is produced of man is not acceptable to the Lord. We must learn to allow the love of Christ to flow through us. In our daily life we tend to forget what kind of love we are supposed to be expressing. We think of human love as being sufficient and it really isnít. So letís read what Paul says in this chapter.

I Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.

Do you know what the ďsounding brass and the tinkling cymbalĒ represent? They represent being critical and judgmental. Without the love that is what tends to come through, because without the love human nature is expressed.

I Corinthians 13:2-3 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

We can be very religious and do a lot of good works. Bestow all of my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned it profits me nothing. If the love is missing, there is no profit in it. How often do we consciously appropriate Godís love? Or do we usually donít even think about it? Iím thinking that, more often than not, the love we have is not even Godís love. Too often we are motivated by self-love.

I Corinthians 13:4 Love suffers long ... It does not blow up in a skinny minute.
Ö and is kind ... These are the things that are the most important and they are also the things that give us the most trouble.
Ö Love does not envy, love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.

Because of the changes that are taking place, it is becoming more necessary for us to learn how to appropriate Godís love so that everything that we do and say comes out of that.

Appropriate Godís love. We have not had it and will not have it until we appropriate it. Consequently, a lot of other things take its place like the unkindness, the envy, self-exaltation, self-centeredness. All those things take its place until we appropriate His love.

I Corinthians 13:5 Does not behave rudely ... We have done that so many times. Love does not behave itself unseemly, unbecoming, does not act rudely.
Ö does not seek its own, is not provoked and thinks no evil. ÖGod, you have just about nailed everyone of us to the tree.

It is Godís love that is going to drive out all these things of our human nature that are in opposition to Him. It is not so much fighting the negative thing as it is the appropriation of the Lordís nature and life. There is the illustration of a pipe filled with black balls that represents our nature. When we push a white ball, representing Godís nature and love, in one end a black ball falls out the other end. Another white ball in and another black ball falls out. That is called the principal of displacement.

I Corinthians 13:6-9 Does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
7 Bears all things ... Of course, human nature has its limitations. We put up with so much and after that, look out!
Ö believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

As the love comes in, it moves these things up to a higher level. It is not that you donít have any knowledge anymore, but the knowledge becomes a love-knowledge that comes from the Lord.

I Corinthians 13:10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

That is what we are looking for. We are looking for that which is perfect, for the Lord to come forth in us and be glorified. Then all the negative things of our human nature will be eliminated.

I Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

All these things listed are childish things, and they are operating in the Christian world because of the lack of Godís love in His people. They are trying to function as a Christian with human love. It cannot be done! We have been doing that far too much.

I Corinthians 13:12-13 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Now look at the last verse in chapter 12.

I Corinthians 12:31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

Of course, that excellent way is love. This pretty much catches us all off-guard. We are all guilty. ďLord, we proclaim repentance. The thing we desire above all things is for You to come forth in our lives. Teach us, Lord, to appropriate Your love, what You are. Come forth within us and be glorified. Deliver us from the old man, Lord. Paul talks about the putting off the old man and putting on the new man (Ephesians 4:22-24). I donít know if we know how to do that very well, but we look to You for the fulfillment of the Word, Lord. We realize that we have tried to function with human love much too often. Now Lord, let Your love fill us, in Jesusí name. Amen.Ē

Copyright © 2009 by Henry DuBose