June 20, 2012

1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

It is, of course, of great significance that in the middle of his long discussion of gifting and “body life” in the Church, Paul inserts this beautiful exposition of agape love. Of all the things God gives us, none is greater than His love, because everything is predicated on that love. John 3:16 of course makes it clear that it was His love that made Him send His Son to be our Savior, and Paul points out that when He has given us His Son, everything else follows. (Romans 8:32) You hear people boasting of various things God has given them, but you never hear people boasting of love. That’s because, as this chapter makes clear, love never boasts! The more we open up to and grasp the love of God, the more we are transformed into the likeness of His Son. (2 Corinthians 3:18, Ephesians 4:13, 15) John went so far as to say that “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8) When God gives us His love, He gives us Himself. It is important to understand the nature of God’s love, and that’s why He had the New Testament written in Greek, with its multiple words for different kinds of love. This isn’t the time or place to go into a long discourse on that, but it’s important to remember that by ourselves, we can’t generate God’s kind of love. That’s why we have to receive it in faith, for it to flow through us and transform us.

Once again I have a huge advantage over most of the people around me, because I was born and raised in a family steeped in the love of God. Such love is very hard to explain, and must be demonstrated. This was an issue even in the 1st Century, and John said clearly that love that doesn’t follow through in action can’t be said to be God’s kind of love. (1 John 3:17-18) It’s not that loving words aren’t important and useful, it’s that true love goes far beyond words. People are impressed, and even amazed and/or deeply moved, by the relationship Cathy and I have, because it includes both words and actions, and it cannot be hidden. Between husband and wife is one thing, but I am called to be a channel and a demonstration of God’s love to everyone I encounter. Of course there are many differences in relationships, but God’s love is the same. His love will draw people to salvation by faith as nothing else can, and I must never forget that. I remember a pithy saying I heard years ago: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I’ve been called a walking encyclopedia, and various things of that sort, but none of that makes any difference if I’m not allowing the love of God to flow through me.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You that Your love isn’t something that can be studied, it must be received. Help me open up more and more to Your love, so that it may flow more and more freely and abundantly through me, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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