4. The Greatest of All


1 Corinthians 13:9-13

The love that demonstrates God’s love to seed His Son into the world to die for lost human beings dominates the New Testament.  It is the great attribute and distinguishing mark of the Christian. Love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  This kind of love is not something we learn form people but form God.  The Christian love mentioned is sacrificial and unconditional like Christ’s. It enables us to even love our enemies.  It is the life of the Body of Christ, the church.  It is the greatest love anyone can have.  One needs to know and experience God’s loves in order to demonstrtrate it to others.  God the Father loved so much that he gave His Son to die for our sin, The Son’s love was so unique and He gave willingly gave Himself for us and the Holy Spirit pours out the love of God the Holy Trinity into our hearts.  Because love is the heart of Jesus, and the supreme function of the Holy Spirit is to make us love like Him.

Love may become one of the most confusing and ambiguous words in the English language. To Fall in Love is to feel an exhilarating closeness and intimacy with another human being.  This emotional high however, cannot last forever. For deep love to persist and grow there must be a giving, other-centred relationship as described in 1 Corinthians 13. Deep and secure love comes after a person gets married. To feel you are in love is not in itself a solid basis for marriage. Biblical marriage is not based upon feeling or other reasons such as sexual need, loneliness, companionship, financial security, support, the desire to escape an unhappy home or pity etc. These are immature and self centred and not real love. To be in love is to experience a state of emotional exhilaration; to grow in love is to involve oneself deliberately in acts of giving and caring.

Your love comes through when you hurt, when you listen and when you hear what we don’t say. Love comes through when you laugh under pressure, even when it doesn’t seem fitting. You have humour and insight in people, situations and things. Love is giving someone a hug although they don’t deserve it. Love bears the scars of life and carries on. Love acts unselfishly and is like a sixth sense that knows that the other person needs you to embrace them.

No matter what age a person is they need love and affection. It doesn’t stop when children grow up. Love when someone is in deep need or help; love doesn’t hesitate, does not make an inquisition, does not put on probation and it demonstrates affection. Don’t hold back on your affection. Demonstrate your acceptance of your children and spouse. They long for affirmation and appreciation.

Love affirms our children and it can do that in two ways, verbal and non verbal. A touch or a kiss or even drawing close can mean so much to a person. Love accepts you even when you fall.

Love is therapeutic it cannot be manufactured by Psychiatrists or Psychologists. They cannot create it of release it. Love reaches out to those who are confused and are hurting or are bereaved. The Christian approach to life is based upon love and helps were counsellors fail. God helps the Christian love needy people. Such love can bring change. Showing love with patience and understanding can reduce fear and anxiety; it can help anxious persons find relief. “Perfect love drives out perfect fear” (1 Jan. 4:18 ). Love moves towards others; fear shrinks away from them.

Love has to do with seeking the highest good for the other person. It is a selfless love. Love when it hurts. Love when you are weary. Love when it means discipline. Love when it means staying the task. Washing… cooking the meals… driving those miles… planning the future… dreaming those big dreams. Love when it means caring for the children’s needs. Love in the midst of the daily frustrations. Love when the pressure is on.

This chapter is sandwiched between a discussion on the spiritual gifts and service to God in love. If love is your aim, you will not use your gifts for purely personal gratification; you will not flaunt you r gifts at inappropriate times; you will not misuse your gift. Love is the essential ingredient in the use of those gifts discussed in chapter 12. The character puts away childish habits. What about you? Do you still behave like a child? Have you matured and developed. Tongues are ecstatic utterance and some people believe you have become mature when you speak in them.


Vs 9-10: “For we in part, and we prophecy in part. But when that which is perfect is come then that which is in part will be done away.” They will not cease to be perfected.

Vs 11-12: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child.” Childish talk, foolish talk, happy chatter or immature talk is not for the mature. Grown men do not talk that way, they put away childish ways of speaking. He develops, grows and appreciates. He puts away childish habits. What about you, do you still behave like a child? Have you matured and developed. Tongues are ecstatic utterances and some people believe you become mature when you speak in them, but here they are a glaring evidence of immaturity. Languages or ecstatic utterances are not sign of a close, mature walk with God. Tongues shall cease but knowledge and prophecy will perfected.

Knowledge changes for we keep on updating our textbooks and encyclopaedias. Modern man is marked with imperfection. Love will remain forever.

“I understood as a child.” A child’s mind is limited and centres around playthings, toys and not deep things.

“But when I became a man.” This means a mature person.

“I put away childish things.” I stopped playing with toys and thinking immaturely.

“For now we see through a glass darkly.” When a mirror is dark you cannot see things as they really are. You cannot see the real person you look at for they live inside their body. You know people in part.

“But then face to face.” You will be known; you will your loved ones.

Vs 13: “And now abides faith, hope and love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” There are three major words and doctrines for the Christian to understand. The object of faith will be fulfilled. There will be no need for faith.

All our hope will be realised. There will be no need for faith. But love will remain forever. Christ loved mankind even unto death; His church is His most wonderful bride and possession. His is an eternal love, a sacrificial love, a patient love, a kind love and humble love.


This is the love of heaven. It all our earthly gifts, when all prophecy has found fulfilment, when all tongues sing the song of the redeemed, when faith is swallowed up in sight, and hope is fulfilled in possession by the Beloved – then love remains. Then the saints will be untied in heaven to love without contention. We shall be judged at the end on our spiritual condition and service. We will be rewarded on the basis of our love and likeness to Christ. Our church must show this love to the needy world today and minister to it. We are not to be preoccupied with petty concerns or internal organisations or differences that are not fundamental. We are not to waste time, talents or anything God gives us but use them in Christ’s service. Only what is done is the Spirit and in love will stand inspection when we appear before Christ. When we are always complaining, gossiping, backbiting, judging, striving for position, or lazy and hypocritical… How much do we care about the souls of the drug addict, the prostitute, the youth of our land or children? How much do we care about missions and the billions without Christ? How much do we care about out neighbour? How much do we really love our brother that is the barometer to our love? Make love your aim… the greatest of these is love.


Vs 7: “Beloved let us love one another, for love is of God.” Love is from God who is the source of love. The mark of the Christian’s character is a love for other believers.

Vs 8: “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” When we become Christians we receive God’s nature (1 Pet. 2:4). Since His nature is love we must reflect love. The one who does not love does not know God.

Vs 9-11: “In this the love of God was manifested towards us, that God sent His Son into the world, that we might have life through Him.” This is a great reason for us to love those in the world also.

Vs10: “This is love, not that we loved God, but that He first loved us and sent His Son to be a propitiation for our sins.” The word means “mercy seat”; Christ became our mercy seat, like the one in the Holy of Holies, where he High Priest splattered the blood of the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:15). It is because of Him we receive mercy.

Vs 11: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to have love one for another.” Because God manifested His love through His Son we have an obligation to habitually and sacrificially love one another.


Vs 12: “No one has seen the Father at any time. If we love one another God abides in us and His love will be perfected in us.” God is invisible, Jesus is no longer with us and so the only way man can see God’s love demonstrated is through the church. No one has viewed or looked upon God, no one has that capacity. Our self-sacrificing love for one another demonstrates to the world the love of God.

Vs 13: “By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” The indwelling evidence of God’s Spirit in us confirms that we are in God. “He in us” speaks of His presence and the communion we have with Him.

Vs 14: “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Saviour of the world.” John had seen Jesus who is God manifested in flesh. He worshiped Him as Saviour, which was a capital offence against the Emperor of Rome.

Vs 15: “Whosoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him and he in God.” The one who agrees that Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh is a confession of His deity.

Vs 16: “And we have known and believed that the love that God is for us, God is love and he who abides in love abides in God.” We have known, we have believed are two personal statements.


Vs 17: “Love… perfected among us.” Love has been made complete and exists in its finished results. This is not sinless perfection but rather a mature love. This is a past fact and a present reality. This fullness of love results in a life entirely devoted to the Lord Jesus. It is a love that is confident and unashamed of meeting Him at some time in the future. “As He is so we are.” We have all the benefits as sons since we have been adopted into His family.


Vs 18: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out all fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” This does not mean we are not in awe of God or fear Him but that we do not fear torment or punishment. The saint who has experienced the fullness of God’s love will not fear.


Vs 19: “We love Him because He first loved us.” When we were unattractive and unlovely, He loved us. That makes Him worth loving and serving.

Vs 20: It is impossible to go on constantly loving God and hating your brother. If we do not love the fellow Christians that we see then we are liars and hypocrites.

Vs 21: This verse summarizes chapter 4. One cannot love God without loving his fellow Believer. To claim to do so is a delusion. It is a command you do not have to feel like it but do it


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