The greatest of all things is LOVE.
The greatest, says the Apostle Paul, agreed upon by the world’s greatest thinkers, artists and poets is:
Love is best.
The Bible book 1 Corinthians 13 is Paul’s finest expressions of love by far. To really know what love is, says Paul, can only occur as a result of a meaningful (loving) relationship with God Almighty. The longer, the deeper the relationship, the more the meaning of love becomes clear.
Love is good. In fact, good is defined by love. For no mere mortal can do good without love. One may intend to live right, perhaps following the Ten Commandments and other great moral precepts. But mere intention, the act of the will is not enough for it lacks the energy, the conviction, the power of LOVE.
There really is no definition of love, no simple one. Words like affection, attachment, emotion, even ultimate feelings are inadequate. So, Paul says let’s begin by defining love as PATIENT. Love is longsuffering because love is eternal.
Love is kind, says the open-hearted Apostle Paul. Love is gentle, easy. It avoids meaningless confrontation and struggle. Love thinks on those things which are good in gentle ways. There is no gentle or kind without love.
Love, God’s love in us, does not insist on its own rights or its own way. A loving person is giving, open, caring. These standards are extremely high, and virtually impossible for any human being to accomplish without, says Paul, the love of God.
Love even allows us not to take account of the wrongs or evil done to us by others. Love allows us to love an enemy rather than to seek vengeance. We can lovingly forgive even as a loving God forgave us.
Love rejoices when right and truth prevail. How wonderful and joyful it is to lovingly live in truth at all times. For to know the truth of love is to be set-free and allows us to live a life rejoicing and praising.
Love protects and defends. It guards the hearts and minds of the young. It trains up children in the way in which it should go. It shows them the way of the Lord, the path of righteousness.
Love is loyal, says Paul. Love is trustworthy and trusting.
Real love, says Paul, always hopes for the best, especially the best in others. Love at work creates belief that all things will work together for good for those who love each other, and especially those who love God. That, says Paul, is an absolute truth for:
LOVE NEVER FAILS
It endures now and for all eternity. It overcomes the greatest evils in this world which combined, can never destroy love.
But the Apostle Paul in his great treatise 1 Corinthians 13 also tells us what love is NOT.
Paul tells us that love is not talk no matter how eloquent.
And Paul says that even the gift of prophecy, knowing the future, discerning the divine will and purpose without love means nothing.
One can not even give to the poor without love. One can not even be willing to die, offer a body to be burned, or lay down a life for another without love, for all such acts no matter how charitable are meaningless without love.
Love is not envious. Love desires the best for everyone. Love rejoices when the best things happen to other people. Love never craves or lusts. It is content no matter the circumstances.
Love is not controlling, says Paul. It lets go. It never holds on. Love never demands and always reasons with an open heart. Love is never possessive. Love is always ready to share, give and understand.
And love never boasts or brags. Love has no ego. Love wishes to be known and loved by God and not man. Love reminds that it is not about me but about HIM.
Love does not behave unseemly. Love allows one to live modestly, humbly and joyfully. Love builds and sustains character.
Love is not easily angered says Paul. Not that one never gets angry, but that anger is slow to wrath. When one is possessed, consumed by love, that loving person can not be easily provoked.
Perhaps so very importantly Paul reminds us that love does not keep any record of wrongs. We the humans have such long memories when things go wrong, when we are wronged. We may in some sense forgive, but it is so very difficult to forget. But love, says Paul, keeps no record of these wrongs. Love holds no grudges, none whatsoever. There is no get-even. Love allows us to do good to those who persecute us, defame us, slander and abuse us. That is real love. We are told that God is love and the more of the love of God in our lives and hearts, the more we can live by love and in love. We now see imperfectly, we now understand love imperfectly, as Paul says, but we will know when we see the source of all love FACE TO FACE. Then we shall know that perfect love which passes all understanding. To stand in the HOLY PRESENCE, the source of all love is to know completely. Love is a process as is learning to love, here and now. But love will be fully completed in the dawn of that eternal day.
And finally, Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 13 that there are three great things, the very best of all things in this life, namely:
No matter how important faith is, and it surely is, that is the conviction and belief with respect to man’s relationship to God and divine things, love is greater. And no matter how strong the force of hope, the joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation, as important as that is, love is greater.
The greatest of all things is LOVE, that is, true affection for God and man, affection growing out of God’s love for and in us.
The greatest of all things is love because LOVE NEVER FAILS!
We celebrate the love of Valentine’s Day and appropriately so. That loving celebration is fun, romantic, even emotional. It is a day set aside once to live love and to express our love to all, but especially so to someone special.
TO LOVE AND TO BE LOVED IS THE GREATEST HAPPINESS OF EXISTENCE. So said Sydnie Smith.
If you had no one to love, you would never be hurt. But, you would never grow. You would never venture outside your own self-centered needs and perceptions. Your heart would never be cracked open so that God could enter it. To love and love unconditionally is to take risks, and especially the risk of rejection. But nothing energizes and cleanses like love.
Charles Dickens said that a loving heart is the truest wisdom. Robert Schuller said that in the presence of love, miracles happen.
Benjamin Disraeli the great English Prime Minister said that:
“WE ARE ALL BORN TO LOVE. IT IS THE PRINCIPLE OF ITS EXISTENCE AND ITS ONLY END.”
Born to love, genetic, all that we really are, the very highest principle itself of existence. And, its only end, like the highest and greatest spiritual commandment that we should love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbors as ourselves. In fact, we are known as Christians, followers of the Christ:
IF YOU HAVE LOVE ONE FOR ANOTHER
GOD SAYS TO US, IN LOVE, I HOLD YOU IN MY MIND. I REMEMBER YOU.
I HOLD ALL OF THE PIECES OF YOU. THE PAST WOUNDS AND THE PRESENT.
AND IN LOVE, I KNIT THEM TOGETHER INTO THE PERSON I LOVE, THE PERSON I CREATED TO GIVE ME JOY:
Love frees us of the weight and pain of life! True love always lightens life’s heaviest burdens. True love is a force far more powerful than the weapons of any enemy.
Life is a flower of which love is the honey, so said Victor Hugo. Love is knit into the very cells of our bodies. It is written into our DNA. It is encoded in the chemicals that make plants green. It is that which makes the sky blue, the substance of the song of the birds in summer, the whisper of the wind in the trees, the silence of the snow as it falls. Love is the voice of God calling to us endlessly and passionately through all HIS marvelous creation.
There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear. The more one loves, the less there is of which to be afraid.
Take away love, said Robert Browning, and our earth is a tomb. And, if you wish to be loved, LOVE. Any time that is not spent on love is time wasted.
True love is a durable fire in the mind ever-burning, never sick, never old, never dead, from itself never turning, so said Sir Walter Raleigh.
The great artist Vincent Van Gogh said:
“THE HEART THAT LOVES IS ALWAYS YOUNG. LOVE IS A MARVELOUS BEAUTIFIER. LOVE IS ART AT WORK. I ALWAYS THINK THAT THE BEST WAY TO KNOW GOD IS TO LOVE MANY THINGS.”
Hear the words of Thomas Merton:
“THE BEGINNING OF LOVE IS TO LET THOSE WHO LOVE BE PERFECTLY THEMSELVES,
AND NOT TO TWIST THEM TO FIT OUR OWN IMAGE. OTHERWISE, WE LOVE ONLY THE REFLECTION OF OURSELVES WE FIND IN THEM.”
Love cures people, the ones who give it and the ones who receive it. Love conquers all things, so said the ancient poet Virgil.
Love allows us to believe so fully and firmly in God even when He is silent!
The great thinker-theologian Soren Kierkegaard profoundly stated that when one has once fully entered the realm of love, the world no matter how imperfect becomes rich and beautiful. It consists solely of opportunities for love.
It is love, said Thomas Mann, not reason that is stronger than death. And that love, stronger than and which conquers death is the love of the Christ on the cross and the resurrection which followed.
To love someone is to see a miracle invisible to others, said Francois Mauriac.
If you love somebody, tell them, so said Rod McKuen. The telling unleashes the energy and the power of love.
The heart has its reasons which reason alone can not understand, so said the thinker Blaise Pascal. Love is a dimension in life different from and beyond reason itself. The more the mind the less the heart and consequently the less love. Reason no matter how wise can never understand love.
The great theologian Paul Tillich said that the first beauty of love is to listen. Listening, really listening in a caring way, may very well be the highest attribute of true love.
For those who love, time is eternity. Love is God’s finger on man’s shoulder. Love is like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and to give thanks for another day of loving. Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end.
Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson said:
“TIS BETTER TO HAVE LOVED AND LOST THAN NEVER TO HAVE LOVED AT ALL.”
Love indeed is risky, the risk of rejection but a life lived without true love is a life never really lived at all.
I love you, says Anna Corbin, as you are, not as you wish to be. I love you for the real person you are, not the imaginary perhaps I fantasize you could be. I love the real, amazing, utterly unique YOU.
If you love until it hurts, really hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love said the wonderfully loving Mother Teresa. True love at work drives away the hurt.
Looking back, said one, I have this to regret. That too often when I loved, I did not say so. Love uncommunicated is love aborted. It is there but never shared. More time is spent judging people which leaves less time to love them.
Zelda Fitzgerald said that nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much love the heart can hold.
Love’s greatest gift is its ability to make everything it touches sacred. Love at work produces the holiest of the holies. The great English statesman William E. Gladstone said the following:
“WE LOOK FORWARD TO THE TIME WHEN THE POWER OF LOVE WILL REPLACE THE LOVE OF POWER. THEN WILL OUR WORLD KNOW THE BLESSINGS OF PEACE. POWER KILLS LOVE AND WITHOUT LOVE, THERE IS NO PEACE. THERE IS NOTHING MORE POWERFUL BEFORE AND EVER AGAIN THAN LOVE.”
The theologian Reinhold Niebuhr said the following:
“WE ARE SAVED BY THE FINAL FORM OF LOVE, WHICH IS FORGIVENESS. FORGIVING AND FORGETTING ARE THE HIGHEST ACTS OF LOVE RESULTING IN OUR SALVATION. THERE WAS ONE YEARS AGO DRIVEN TO THE CROSS BY THE LOVE OF MANKIND PROVIDING IN HIS DEATH THE LIFE AND THE LOVE WE LEAD. THE CROSS WAS THE FINAL AND FORGIVING FORM OF LOVE.”
The crucifixion of the Christ on the cross was indeed the ultimate act of love.
The great writer C.S. Lewis said the following:
“TO LOVE AT ALL IS TO BE VULNERABLE. LOVE ANYTHING AND YOUR HEART WILL CERTAINLY BE WRUNG AND POSSIBLY BROKEN. LOVE BREAKS DOWN ALL BARRIERS, OPENS WIDE THE HEART, EXPOSES TRUE INNOCENCE AND RISKS THE WRINGING AND THE BREAKING OF THIS MORE PRIZED POSSESSION. REAL LOVE DEMANDS THIS, CONSTANTLY.”
Sir Arthur Pinero said that “those who love deeply never grow old. They may die of old age, but they die young at heart.”
That deep love here and now is but a prelude to the perfect love there. In fact, they are one love contiguous and continuous. Love is both earthly and eternal. Love never dies. For there is only one real happiness in life and that is to love and to be loved.
The great writer Ralph Waldo Emerson said:
“NEVER SELF-POSSESSED OR PRUDENT, LOVE IS ALL ABANDONMENT.”
Hear then the marvelous words of the great poet William Wordsworth:
“A PERSON CAN BE SO CHANGED BY LOVE AS TO BE UNRECOGNIZABLE AS THE SAME PERSON. LOVE TRANSFORMS, REGENERATES. LOVE PRODUCES CHANGE, EVERYWHERE AND IN EVERYONE. LOVE BETTERS WHAT IS BEST!”
The great philosopher Plato said that love is the best friend of human kind, the helper and the healer of all ills that stand in the way of human happiness. In fact, love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries and without them, humanity can not survive. And for some real definition of the word love, hear the words of Saint Augustine:
“WHAT DOES LOVE LOOK LIKE? WHY, IT HAS HANDS TO HELP OTHERS. IT HAS FEET TO HASTEN TO THE POOR AND NEEDY. IT HAS EYES TO SEE MISERY AND WANT. IT HAS EARS TO HEAR THE SIGHS AND SORROWS OF HUMANKIND. THAT IS WHAT LOVE LOOKS LIKE!”
Amen and amen.
Love comes supreme and most innocently from a child. A child’s love is pure, uncomplicated, unconditional, fully trusting. Such innocence opens deep the world of feeling and emotion and it is a return to that childlike love and that ability to love which alone can make complete the adult version of that child. May we all be wise enough to return to the innocent love of a little child.
And so my friends, my fellow Americans, we the Crawford Broadcasting Company wish you all of the love possible on Valentine’s Day and during Valentine’s week. May love in all its forms permeate your life and may you know the supreme love of the One who laid down His life for you. Live love every day and know the real and true meaning of life.
And finally, the profound words of poet Emily Dickenson:
“IF I CAN STOP ONE HEART FROM BREAKING
I SHALL NOT LIVE IN VAIN
IF I CAN EASE ONE LIFE THE ACHING
OR COOL ONE PAIN
OR HELP ONE FAINTING ROBIN
IN TO HIS NEST AGAIN
I SHALL NOT LIVE IN VAIN!”
Love is the greatest!