Aging and loss seem to go together. Our aging friends die. Our faculties waver at best and some vanish. We lose our keys, glasses, and other possessions. Memory falters and we even lose interest in activities that we once enjoyed. This morning’s devotional takes a look at the opposites — three things that cannot be lost.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Some think faith is the most important on this list. Hebrews 11:6 says that “without faith it is impossible to please God” yet love is greater.
Hope sits in the middle yet I wonder why it is on the list, for in eternity with Christ, all hope will be fulfilled. Yet hope means expectation and with that definition, heaven will be a place of continual delight, including expectations and their fulfillment.
The third item is love. This verse says it will abide or remain and that it is the greatest item on the list. This love is “agape” and means benevolent and sacrificial actions for the good of others.
1 Corinthians 13 gives some examples. This kind of love is not mere talk, but action. It comes from the heart of Jesus and is motivated by our faith in Him. Love is also energized by a hope for positive things, a looking forward to the future and forgetting about the past. Love is also caring about others to the point of being willing to die for them.
Earlier, the chapter says that faith can move mountains, but without love, moving mountains is nothing. It also makes clear that if love is not in everything I do, my life is nothing.
Before reading this, I’ve thought about what would be left when I die. I can make sure my stuff goes to people who need it, but will I leave behind any of the qualities describing love — patience, kindness, generosity, humility, courtesy, unselfishness, a good temper, and a sincerity that keeps no record of wrongs?
The devotional writer points out that each description about love is in relation to people and life. That is, love applies to what is known today rather that what will happen in the unknowns of eternity. While the Bible says love will abide or last forever, God did not intend that it be kept in my pocket until that day when I arrive there. Just as eternal life is a present possession for those who know and have Christ in our lives, so is love intended to be lived out here and now, not just a possession for a far off future.
The devotional says, “Lavish (love) on the poor, where it is very easy; especially on the rich, who often need it most; most of all on our equals, for whom perhaps we each do least of all. There is a difference between trying to please and giving pleasure. Give pleasure. Lose no chance of giving pleasure.”
These are convicting thoughts. I rate myself as stingy with love. I can be impatient and thoughtless, selfish and carry grudges. Love does not do these things. Losing stuff and my faculties is nothing compared to the need to lose these sinful attitudes — and then let the Holy Spirit fill the empty spaces with the love of God.