Monday, June 8, 2009

The Greatest of These…

Last week while on vacation, I saw a woman wearing a T-shirt that read, “Faith – Hope – Love.” I’m not sure whether the shirt held spiritual meaning for her, or whether it was just something purchased for “the look,” just as many people today wear ornamental crosses as fashion accessories.

Those words, of course, come from 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” That verse comes immediately after the passage – often used at weddings – that describes love in many ways, including patient, kind, humble, trusting, hopeful and persevering.

Have you ever wondered why love is called “the greatest of these”? I have heard sermons on this, but most seem to just miss the mark. It’s true that love compelled Jesus Christ to go to the cross on our behalf. And love can prompt us to do unusual, extraordinary, even heroic acts on behalf of others. But there is something more.

Both faith and hope pertain to the “not yet.” I define faith as, belief plus trust. And hope as, “earnest expectation” or “confident assurance.” Both are grounded in an inner certainty of the reality of God. But the fact is we still have not yet seen Him. When we all pass to “the other side of eternity,” however, the Bible assures us, “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

At that moment, our need for faith and hope will end – forever. All that will remain is love, a profound, enduring love for the One who first loved us, not because we deserved it, but because we did not deserve it – and He loved us anyway. And when we see Him as He is, we can’t help but love Him back.

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