And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
For many people, 1 Corinthians 13 is their favorite chapter in the Bible. Because it describes the character and nature of love so well, it is sometimes called “The Love Chapter.” These words conclude the chapter and tell of the never-ending nature of love.
The three great pursuits of the Christian life are not miracles, power, and gifts; they are faith, hope, and love. Though the gifts are precious, and given by the Holy Spirit today, they were never meant to be the focus or goal of the Christian life. Instead, the believer’s main pursuit is faith, hope, and love.
What is your Christian life focused on? What do you really want more of? It should all come back to faith, hope, and love. If it doesn’t, we need to receive God’s sense of priorities, and put our focus where it belongs.
Because faith, hope, and love are so important, we should expect to see them emphasized throughout the New Testament. Think of these passages:
Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father. (1 Thessalonians 1:3)
But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. (1 Thessalonians 5:8)
For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. (Galatians 5:5-6)
You could add to these 1 Peter 1:21-22, Colossians 1:4-5, and 2 Timothy 1:12-13.
Faith, hope, and love are all important, but the greatest of these is love. Love is greatest because it will continue and even grow in the eternal state. When we are in heaven, faith and hope will have fulfilled their purpose. We won’t need faith when we see God face to face. We won’t need to hope in the coming of Jesus once He returns. But we will always love the Lord and each other and grow in that love through eternity.
Love is also the greatest because it is an attribute of God (1 John 4:8), and faith and hope are not part of God’s character and personality. God does not have faith in the way we have faith, because He never has to “trust” outside of Himself. God does not have hope the way we have hope, because He knows all things and is in complete control. But God is love and will always be love.
The point isn’t to get us to choose between faith, hope, and love. The point is that without love as the motive and goal, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are meaningless distractions. If you lose love, everything is lost.
Let the greatness of God’s love fill your life today.