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The greatest of these

Without a doubt, it’s what we all need and would bring the “healing of the nations” if universally applied.

Love. True Love.

I was thinking about this the other day while watching the evening news and wondering what it’d take to cease all the violence and bloodshed. And, the Lord reminded me of I Corinthians 13, also known as “The Love Chapter” in the Bible.

As I reflected once again on those 13 verses, I realized anew how powerful they are — for in them they poignantly describe what True Love is and isn’t. In fact, the Apostle Paul describes True Love’s Cancellation, Characterizations, Consummation and Coronation.

In verses 1-2, he talks of how eloquence and enlightenment fail the litmus test of what True Love is. He said “Even if I sound like an angel when I speak or can sway the masses with my persuasive words—and have not Love — I still sound like the brass section and clanging cymbals in a band. Or, if I have the gift of prophecy and can correctly discern the cause-and-effect of things or have enough faith to move mountains — and have not Love — I am nothing.”

Why is that?

Simply because human eloquence and enlightenment tend to focus on the one who has them. Others may be wowed by them, yet they lack the power to truly change others’ lives. Only True Love can do that.

Then, in verse 3, Paul points out how benevolence and self-sacrifice also fall short of True Love’s power. Even if we “bestow all of our goods to feed the poor or give our body to be burned as a religious martyr and have not Love, it profits us nothing.” Others may laud us for such acts, but ultimately even those will ultimately soon be forgotten.

Next, in vv.4-8 Paul describes True Love’s Characterizations. And, what a list it is! Even a cursory examination of them helps us readily recognize what True Love is and isn’t: “True Love (agape Love) is patient, kind, doesn’t envy, doesn’t push itself forward, isn’t puffed up with pride, doesn’t behave inappropriately, doesn’t seek its own way, isn’t easily provoked, doesn’t imagine evil, doesn’t rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the Truth, bears all things, believes all things, never loses Hope, endures all things and never fails.”

Wow! Wouldn’t our world be a much better place if all 6-plus billion of us loved that way? Most assuredly it would. But, I guess that’s why we call such a place Heaven — for such a Utopia will never exist this side of that Celestial Place because of our sinfulness.

Paul then talks briefly of True Love’s Consummation and how things will be when we finally reach Heaven (vv.9-12). Here on earth we only “know in part and prophesy in part—but when that which is perfect/complete has come (Heaven), then that which is incomplete shall be done away with” (vv.9-10).

That doesn’t mean we have to continue acting childish, blaming it on sin, until we reach Heaven. Instead, True Love will help us “put away childish ways the deeper we grow in Christ” (v.11). And, even though right now we’re like one “peering through a smoked, soot-stained window … so limited in our understanding…one of these days we’ll see Jesus face-to-Face clearly know all things and won’t have to wear masks anymore” (v.12). Hallelujah!!

Paul concludes his “Treatise on True Love” by talking about “Faith, Hope and Love and how the greatest of these is Love” (v.13). At first, we wonder why he would come to this conclusion, especially when Faith and Hope are such an important part of life.

But, then you realize there’ll be no need for them in Heaven—for we’ll no longer have to live by Faith since we’ll be seeing Jesus face-to-Face. Likewise, there’ll be no need for Hope because, again, we’ll be experiencing everything firsthand.

However, True Love will reign supreme and eternal in that Fair Land “not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (II Corinthians 5:1). There’ll be no more jockeying for position … no more self-centered, self-surveying ways … no more pettiness, vindictiveness or competitiveness. Truly, Heaven will be the place of True Love’s Coronation.

Won’t that be wonderful?

Most assuredly it will. Are you ready to go there? If not, cry out to Jesus—God’s Supreme Example of True Love—and He’ll make sure you are as He transforms you by His Love.

To contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at pressingon@hotmail.com.

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