January 29, 2013

Loss can be gain

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. 


Derrick Stewart said...

Hi Elsie! I'd like to get your insight on this verse (1 Cor 13:13).

I'm trying to understand how faith and hope can abide forever when, in heaven, we finally see and enjoy and when love becomes the consummation of faith and hope.

Elsie Montgomery said...

Hi Derrick,
Off the top of my head, I'm thinking if there were no abiding faith, hope, and love, what would we have? Doubt, unbelief, hopelessness, apathy, hate? That is not a very "theological" answer though. :-) Perhaps this is better: for all of eternity, we will still trust God. For all of eternity we will know that our only hope in being there was because of God's grace and Jesus Christ. And for all of eternity, we will love God and love one another. In that way, all three will abide, and perhaps in dimensions that I cannot think of. Does that help? If you want to talk more about this, get back to me. It's a great question!!


Derrick Stewart said...

"for all of eternity, we will still trust God"

This makes sense and confirms one of the thoughts I had on the verse. By the way, this question arose after studying Matthew Henry's commentary on the passage, where he says 'Faith fixes on the divine revelation, and assents to that: hope fastens on future felicity, and waits for that: and in heaven faith well be swallowed up in vision, and hope in fruition. There is no room to believe and hope, when we see and enjoy.'

I love reading his commentary and it has not been common that I've questioned it. I understand what he is stating in this quote and further comments but, to me, it doesn't seem to support or address what the Holy Spirit is saying through Paul ... that the former two abide forever. It could that perhaps this is one of those aspects of eternity that will be revealed when we arrive on the shores of glory. Also, it could be more than coincidence that this verse is proceed by a verse that says, 'Now I know in part; then I shall know fully'.


If you are interested in the commentary for this passage, go here: http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/1-corinthians/13.html

Elsie Montgomery said...

Thanks for making me think! I've noticed in my studies that theologians can make mistakes - which is humbling. If these learned people can do it, then me also... and far more likely. Your quote, "Now I know in part..." is a great comfort. One day we will know fully, and what will be even more amazing is that we will all agree!

Thanks for the interaction and the link. I probably have Matthew Henry in logos, so will now have a look. :-)

Derrick Stewart said...

You're welcome and thank you for reciprocating! Amen.

In His love and service,