….and the greatest of these is LOVE
Have you heard the saying – ‘Love is blind’? And how it makes a person numb to logic? You may have also heard how people in love feel a hormonal rush. To simply put it, these are emotions that are capable to hijack a person. Hence, people push and accomplish major feats for love. But the question today is – Where did something as strong as this ‘love’ originate?
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” Isaiah 49:15 (NIV)
Man’s love –
Love is the strongest of all emotions and yet at times becomes the toughest of all. For instance, a man can find it easy to feed a poor person out of compassion, but find it hard to speak a few kind words to his loved one sometimes. Even the purest of all earthly love, which is mother’s love, can fail to satisfy. Because human love has reservations and limitations. Yes, it is true. The sinful nature in man becomes his hindrance to love. Do you remember the times when you knew it was your mistake and still struggled to say sorry and show love?
God’s love –
God is described as love in the Bible. He is the very definition of love. God is seen as the highest form of love. He is without any malice, selfishness, unfaithfulness, bias. His love is also called agape love.
Love is the strongest of all emotions and yet at times becomes the toughest of all.
Every statement made in the Bible is not merely a historic claim but it is a truth claim. It doesn’t need any further validation. Yet, God in his generosity gave enough evidence to support His claims with action.
Even the statement “God is love” in 1 John 4:16, needs no validation. God still demonstrated it by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
1. He became our atoning sacrifice by dying on the cross, so that you and I can be free from sins. What have we done to deserve such a love?
2. He forgave the Roman soldiers who crucified him. This shows the extent of His love – forgiving even those who hurt him.
3. When He asked John to take care of his mother, Mary, even in the last minute shows how caring His love is. It also portrays His attention to our inmost needs.
4. His final statement before He died, “my God, my God why have you forsaken me?”, displays how much He values His relationship with the father which also reciprocates in every other relationship on earth.
Jesus was able to exhibit this love because of the Spirit of God. In Romans 5:5, Paul says – ‘God’s love has been poured into us through the Spirit’. As we walk in step with the Spirit, the first attribute of the fruit of the Holy Spirit generated in us is LOVE.
Now, there are two kinds of love, one which comes from the flesh and one which comes from the Spirit of God – which brings us to our second question – Why has this love from God been given to us?
Well, the Bible gives us a two-fold application, commonly understood as vertical and horizontal elements, resembling the cross.
As we walk in step with the Spirit, the first attribute of the fruit of the Holy Spirit generated in us is LOVE.
“..may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,”
Ephesians 3:18 NIV
The vertical element symbolises that this love is poured in us to quench our own need to be loved. It’s interesting to note – it was the cross, Jesus’ sacrifice, which made it possible for us to experience God’s love in a much deeper way. Today, God is not just some distant being trying to force His way in us. In fact, He is a father who seeks the best for us. We receive this understanding through the Spirit.
And God desires that we would stop seeking this love in the things of this world, because the world doesn’t have the power to quench our thirst. On the other hand, God’s love is so vast and deep that no one will be able to finish drinking it fully. You’ll drink from His love and quench your thirst, and there will always be more of his love to keep filling you. Having tasted God’s love, we are able to love Him back on a much greater level by obeying His command.
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Matthew 5:44-45 (NIV)
The horizontal element is to love everyone, even those whom we consider enemies. The Bible commands us to go one step further and pray for our enemies. Humanly speaking, our flesh will not allow to do so. Yet, with God’s love poured into our hearts and by the Spirit that empowers our inner man, we can love others. How can we give, what we don’t have? That’s why it is important for us to first be filled with God’s love.
“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”
1 John 4:20 NIV
There is an intricate connection between the horizontal and vertical element. One is derived from the other. For those who are in Christ, God puts the link. He puts the link between loving God and loving one another – like that between husband and wife, siblings, friends, and colleagues. The love of God poured into us does a full 360° work in us, without leaving any area untouched.
A person may have great faith, great hope, but if he or she is empty of love, that person cannot be used by Adonai.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
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