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“The Greatest Is Love” (1 Cor. 13:13)

Pray Psalm 119:18—  “Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your Law.”

Read today’s chapter: 1 Corinthians 13

Then read and apply the “Wonderful Thing” below.

 Wonderful Thing – The Greatest Is Love (1 Cor. 13:13)

Wonderful Thing in this Passage – As important as chapter 12’s spiritual gifts are to the church’s ministry on earth, Paul points out in chapter 13 that we won’t need them in heaven.1 There are other things that are more important both now and forever. And one of those is the most important of all:

“Now these three remain:

faith, hope, and love –

but the greatest of these is love.

(1 Cor. 13:13)

When Jesus began evangelizing the Jews, He identified “Love your neighbor as yourself” as the second greatest Old Testament commandment.2 However, when He started His church, He introduced something beyond even that: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you.”3

While the old love required loving others as much as themselves, this new love set a much higher standard:  they were to love their fellow believers even more than themselves.  Their love for one another was to be measured by Christ’s love: “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren”4

This new love was the normal experience of the early church.5 They were together daily in worship meetings, ministry projects, or just eating in each other’s homes. When a brother or sister was in special need, they met that need, even if it meant selling some of their own property to do so. Joining the early church was not just establishing membership in an organization: it was being adopted into a new family.  They were “devoted to one another in brotherly love.”6

This kind of radical love would be difficult to sustain in any group – in fact, it would be impossible.  But the Bible shows us people yelling, “Crucify him!” one day, and, a few weeks later, living daily in this kind of love for fellow followers of the Christ they had crucified. How did this transformation take place? Not through sensitivity training classes. It occurred instantly at Pentecost when they received the Holy Spirit. The immediate result was the covenant community of Acts 2:40-47. That’s because our Lord not only requires this new kind of love, He also imparts it.  It’s not a love enforced from the outside. Instead, “God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”7 This new impartation enabled the early church to live in covenant love.

Wonderful Thing in My Life – That love was one of the most striking characteristics of the New Testament church, and it will remain so for the community of the redeemed in heaven. It should be so for our churches now.

Sadly, this kind of love has been missing from much of the church’s history.  That doesn’t change the reality, however, that it’s both required and available for all who have the Spirit of Jesus.  It’s an essential and foundational quality of a New Testament church.  In fact, Jesus called this kind of love the primary mark by which His disciples could be identified: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”8

Want more of this kind of love among your Christian friends? Read Acts 2:40-47 and try their method: spend frequent time with them (they did it daily) in Bible study, worship, ministry projects, and meals; sacrifice for them when needed; and, most importantly, be freshly filled with the Holy Spirit.

1 1 Cor. 13:8-12.  2 Mark 12:28-31.  3 John 13:34.  4 1 John 3:16.  5 Acts 2:42-47.  6 Rom. 12:10.  7 Rom. 5:5.  8 John 13:35.

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