“The Greatest Of These Is Love”

1 Corinthians 13:13

Is your heart ruled, governed, and motivated by the love of Christ? Do you have within you the kind of love that Christ produces in his people! Do I?

Love Is Essential

Love is absolutely essential to true godliness. Paul tells us that if we have all other things, and have not love, they shall profit us nothing. The absence of love is fatal. As you read 1 Corinthians 13, do not think to yourself, "Love is a very great virtue, most commendable and useful, it would be a great thing if I could obtain it." Oh, no! We must have it!

The Holy Spirit tells us that this love is something which characterizes all who are born of God. We must have it, or else we are not born of God. If I do not have this love, no matter what else I may have, no matter what else I may do, if I do not have the love of Christ in my heart, I am a lost man; and the same is true of you. This love is not a condition to be met in order to get salvation. But it is the sure result of God's saving grace in Christ.

The Greatest Gift

Christian love is greater than all other spiritual gifts and graces. Without love, all other gifts and graces are meaningless and useless (1 Cor. 13:1-3). This one thing, love, is the fulfilling of the law of God (Matt. 22:36-40; Rom. 13:8-10). And love is the one sure mark and evidence of a saving union with the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35).

            Where this love is absent grace is absent. No man is born of God who does not have the love of Christ implanted in his heart as a ruling principle of life (1 John 2:9-1 11; 3:14, 23; 4:7, 8, 16, 20; 5:1).

Easily Identified

The love of Christ, or the absence of it, is a thing easily identifiable. This is not some profound, mysterious point of theology. It is not some sweet-sounding, but useless, emotion. The love of Christ is a gift of divine grace that is clearly demonstrated in the lives of God's elect (1 Cor. 13:4-7). This love causes a person to be kind, patient, content, gentle, even tempered, humble, self-denying, generous, honest, truthful, forbearing, and forgiving toward others, both in the church and out of it.

Never Ceases

Love is preferable to all other gifts and greater than all other graces, because love is the only thing that will last forever (1 Cor. 13:8-13). All other gifts will come to an end. All other graces will cease. But love will go on in heaven. Faith will be no more, when we see him whom we have believed. Hope will be no more, when we have that for which we have hoped. But love will continue and come to perfection when we enter heaven. Love is the only thing we have in this world which we can carry into the world to come. Heaven is a world of love, perfect, unceasing, glorious, Christ-like love. No one will enter that city of peace and world of love except those who have the love of Christ in their hearts.

Don Fortner