I CORINTHIANS 13:12-13: “Now we see only an indistinct image in a mirror, but then we will be face to face. Now what I know is incomplete, but then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. Right now three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (ISV)
OBSERVATION: What’s love got to do with it? The answer – EVERYTHING! Paul, writing to the Corinthian church, pens these immortal words that need to be meditated on by every heart that professes the name of Jesus Christ.
- “Right now three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
But, what is love?
The definition of love is the key to maintaining a proper focus in life. If love is the greatest, and we have a misunderstanding of what love is, then we will be wandering hopelessly through life, ever searching, but never finding true love. Paul defines the true character of love in this wonderful 13th chapter of I Corinthians:
- “(4) Love is always patient; love is always kind; love is never envious or arrogant with pride. Nor is she conceited, (5) and she is never rude; she never thinks just of herself or ever gets annoyed. She never is resentful; (6) is never glad with sin; she’s always glad to side with truth, and pleased that truth will win. (7) She bears up under everything; believes the best in all; there is no limit to her hope, and never will she fall.” (ISV)
As we read this definition of love, it is clear to see that this is not an explanation of human love. Each time I read these verses I realize how much I fall short of this love. Love is not simply accepting someone without any standards or expectations. Love is the call for all to reach their full potential in life, to uphold the truth, to walk in righteousness, and to abide in faith and hope. Love is not the dismissal of all standards in the name of tolerance. Love is the call to true humility, righteousness, and obedience.
Where do we find this kind of love? Paul gives us the key in his closing words.
- (12) “Now we see only an indistinct image in a mirror, but then we will be face to face. Now what I know is incomplete, but then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
These words come into focus as we read the words of the Apostle John in his first epistle.
- “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (face to face). And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (abides in truth).” (I John 3:1-3 NKJV)
- “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (substitutionary sacrifice) for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (I John 4:7-11 NKJV)
Paul tells us that we will not fully understand love until we are face to face. John tells us that it is Jesus that we will see face to face, when He is revealed. And at that moment – we will both see and understand true love – FOR GOD IS LOVE! So what do we do until this time? Do we remain content with a love that falls miserably short of God’s love as expressed in I Corinthians 13? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
As John says in I John 4:7-11 – WE LIVE AND LOVE THROUGH HIM!
Love cannot be defined or expressed apart from Jesus Christ. What the world calls love is truly not love at all. The world’s love is restrictive and dismissive. It approves of some, and it condemns others. Jesus love, exemplified by His death on the cross, calls all men and women to a restored relationship with the Father, by grace through faith. It is only when we die to our own limited concept of love, and embrace God’s gift of love in Jesus Christ, that we are able to truly live and experience the power and potential of God’s love.
Apart from a life in Jesus Christ – our love will always miss the mark.
Lord, I realize this morning that my love is truly deficient within itself. My desire is to love as You loved. Open my eyes to see You, and live through me today. Empower my love – with Your love! Give me the power to love others as You have loved me!
In Jesus Name!