Excerpts from I Corinthians Chapter Thirteen
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
If I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
Love never fails
We have heard sermons, read books, and have been encouraged by people who care about us to have faith or to have more faith. And rightly so, through faith we hurdle many obstacles in life and seize many opportunities. Faith lifts us above our fears and anxieties and gives us hope that everything will be alright. As important as faith and hope is in the Christian experience, the love of God is of higher rank when it comes to our relationship with God. After one of the most notable dissertations ever penned regarding faith, hope and love the Apostle Paul gives us some insight into the elevated importance of our love for God, And now abides faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. Paul reinforces that love is the best we have.
When I was a senior pastor, I counseled good hearted Christians who struggled with their faith because of guilt and remorse over past mistakes, or lost hope under the weight of unexpected challenges and unbearable circumstances. It is not uncommon for people to be so low they doubt their relationship with God. They even doubted they were Children of God. When these doubts were a part of the conversation in counseling I would ask, do you have a genuine love for God? Could you absolutely say without reservation that you love God? In almost all cases there was a yes without hesitation. When I heard this, I encouraged the people I was trying to help that their love for God was clear proof that they were a Child of God and their relationship with Him was secure.
Our love for God authenticates our relationship with Him. Children of God have a love for God. It’s that simple. Faith is stubbornly illusive at times. We pray and wait for faith. Yet love is always present. Our hopes are shattered, yet our love for God is whole. Faith and hope is often tested, but our love for God never needs re-certification. We can lack faith and hope. But love never fails. It is dependable and sure.
There is little disagreement among Christians that faith is a gift from God. Faith starts with God and ends with us. It is not manufactured by us. But it does become our own. We respond to divinely given faith and then take on the faith given. Like faith, God’s love for us is a gift. But God does not compel us to love Him or reconstruct the love He has for us to a love we might have for Him. We know that no one can make us love someone. God has designed it this way. We might learn to love but we cannot be forced to love. God loved us first but he does not force us to love Him back. God loved us first enabling us to love Him voluntarily. This voluntary love makes our love for God special and the crowning centerpiece in the House of God. God wants to be loved by us, when we love Him it is above all, even faith and hope. Our faith maybe underground, our hope barely detectable in the shadows but love is always in full view and a sure proof that we are His and He is ours!
Joseph C. Hutchison
Rochester Hills, Michigan
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