The famous Greek philosopher Sophocles stated, “One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life, that word is love.” Mankind speaks of and sings of love more than any other idea. Yet, our understanding of what it is and what it does is limited and self-centered. John 15:13 states, “Greater Love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. We mostly express our feelings about love in terms of what we get from another, but the truth of love, God’s love, is that it transcends personal interest, it is measureless and eternal, and it is a divine attribute of God that we desperately reach out to grasp, but can never fully obtain this side of Heaven. We sometimes brag about our love for God and others, but that is error. Instead we should brag about how we are loved by a limitless God.
8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
As a believer in Christ Jesus, what do I owe those who live around me? What is my calling and responsibility toward other people? Paul says not to be dependent on your neighbors, but to pay the love of Christ forward to them. I love, because I am loved. I was loved by God since time began, He set in motion a plan for my redemption from the beginning. Despite foreknowledge of the grief I would cause and the pain He would suffer, He chose love. Therefore, when I am such an unworthy recipient of the greatest love ever known, how could I withhold it from another? I could never repay God for the kindness He’s shown to me, but He expects me to “go and do likewise.”
Many believe the law of God to be harsh and oppressive. They misread it to be outdated or unreasonable. The law of God is perfect. It is a mirror that we look in to clearly comprehend our imperfections. The purpose of the law is to teach the perfection and holiness of God and the necessity of love towards one another. All the commandments, those listed and all the rest, were given for our good. They train us to understand that we are not the center of the universe, we are created beings designed for a purpose to know God and to make Him known and also to reflect His character towards others. If I would do the will of God, I must understand that following Jesus in love and blessing others is my primary priority. Modern thinking puts making your “own way” first and making sure you are treated fairly an obsession today. You won’t find that idea in the teachings of scripture. From God’s perspective, those who give themselves wholly to His service are successes. How do I know this is right? The cross of Calvary proves the philosophy of God, by laying down His life, Christ became victor over all.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
I remember learning this chapter as a child in Sunday School. I thought it was beautiful, but also heartbreaking. We are only looking at a portion of chapter 13 today, but go back and read it in its entirety. My mentor and teacher, Mrs. Endicott, helped me with the struggle. I was upset because I recognized that I couldn’t do what this scripture was asking. The requirements of love were beyond my grasp. If that is what it takes to get to heaven, I reasoned, I’ve already lost. After all, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” Each line proclaimed me guilty. She told me that I had made the classic mistake. I was thinking that this beautiful description was supposed to be about me, she said, “this is who Jesus is.” Listen, Jesus never fails, Jesus will not cease, and Jesus doesn’t just love, it is who He is. It’s as if we are cinders floating around a roaring flame, we are part of what He does, but He is the fire. The best of my efforts will all vanish away, but what He has done, continues forever.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
Our bodies will be made new before we can enter the kingdom of God. All that is of this fallen world, including our understanding and wisdom, will remain behind us. When the “perfect one” comes, we’ll no longer require anything from here. What we know will be swallowed up by who we know. The law that let me glimpse His glory will be replaced by Christ, who fulfilled it in person and face to face.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
I spent so much time making mud pies and digging holes in the yard for dinosaur bones as a kid. I spent countless hours arranging rocks and making play furniture and setting up pretend houses for my dolls. I do little of that today. What was dream and practice became reality when I married and began caring for my family in a real home with a kitchen. What had been hypothesized in dirt, was realized in our family meals. Likewise, our best efforts to live for Jesus here are playtime in a way, until we all get to Heaven and meet the one we have been imitating. The glass in this verse is a broken mirror, we can barely make out what we are seeing, but in Heaven, we’ll see ourselves and others inside and out. You are not only loved by God, you're known by HIm. Nothing is hidden. In heaven, you’ll know like that also.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Faith is a decision resulting in action to trust in the Word of God and obey it. Hope is not a wish but a vision. It is looking forward expectantly to the fulfillment of God’s word because you have settled it in your heart that “He is, and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Then there’s charity, which is the love gifted to you by the Holy Spirit that enables you to show love to the undeserving. To love with action, those who have hurt you, disrespect you, and who may never appreciate or return it. Of those attributes a Christian should strive for and practice daily, the most important and pleasing to God, is Charity. Love in Action.
Thank you for studying with us! God bless!