Love is…The greatest of these
‘And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.’1 Corinthians 13:13
Having reminded the Corinthian Church of the partial and temporal nature of the gifts that they so highly esteemed (prophecies, tongues and knowledge) Paul then lists three gifts of higher value for they will remain for all eternity. Whilst the lesser gifts will pass away, faith, hope and love will find their fulfilment in glory.
You might think that there would be no need for faith, given that we will have sight. ‘then we shall see face to face.’ And yet in the glorious new reality that awaits the believer there is still, in a sense, a place for faith. We will still trust God. We will still know that every word he speaks is trustworthy and true.
There is also still, in a sense, a place for hope in heaven. There will always be more to discover. We will never get bored. Bon Jovi says we’ll sleep when we’re dead. I don’t know if we will or not. ‘The Lord grants sleep to those he loves’ (Psalm 127:2). Maybe we will! If we do, we’ll never wake up thinking ‘oh no. Another dull day to face!’ Every day there will be new things to discover and to enjoy, new facets of the glory of God to see and to savour- he is the inexhaustible God.
Alexander MacLaren says,
“That Future presents itself to us as the continual communication of an inexhaustible God to [us]. In that continual communication there is continual progress. And wherever there is progress there must be hope.”
He goes on to speak of,
“the unseen glories that lie beyond the next turn” that “woo us further into the depths of heaven and the fullness of God.”
So there is a place for faith and hope. But the greatest place is reserved for love. Love goes to the very heart of who God is. From all eternity the triune God- Father, Son and Spirit has communed together in love. In love we were created. And even when we had rebelled against God, he sent his Son in love to rescue and redeem. It is on the cross of Christ as Jesus died for our sins that we see the love of God most clearly.
“God is the fountain of love, as the sun is the fountain of light. And therefore the glorious presence of God in heaven, fills heaven with love, as the sun, placed in the midst of the visible heavens in a clear day, fills the world with light. The apostle tells us that ‘God is love’ and therefore, seeing he is an infinite being, it follows that he is an infinite fountain of love. Seeing he is an all-sufficient being, it follows that he is a full and overflowing, and inexhaustible fountain of love. And in that he is an unchangeable and eternal being, he is an unchangeable and eternal fountain of love.”Jonathan Edwards
Faith, hope and love remain. These are the gifts we will enjoy for all eternity, but the greatest of these is love.
Yours in Christ Jesus,