Greatest Thing in the World

Friday: Showing God’s Love

Romans 12:9 In this week’s studies, we see that love is the first virtue mentioned among the characteristics that are to be evident in God’s people.
Showing God’s Love

Today we will look at the section of 1 Corinthians 13 which says that love will endure even when things like prophecies, tongues and the quest for knowledge have ceased. And we’ll see why love is more important even than such enduring things as faith and hope. 

[Love]…always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 

Love always protects. The last four descriptions say what love always does. First, it always protects the other person. It sides with the weak. It rallies around the one who has been oppressed, attacked, abused, hurt, slandered or otherwise made a victim. Love protects children, because it knows that “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matt. 19:14). 

Love always trusts. Love is never suspicious. Love is not trying to see under the surface or pry out the hidden motives of another. Love is not stupid or gullible, but it always thinks the best. It is the quality that brings out the best in other people. A mother shows love when she tells her struggling son that she believes in him, or her discouraged daughter that she knows she will do well. 

Love always hopes. Love does not stop loving because it is not loved in return or because it is deceived. Love hopes for the best, and it forgives not once or even seven times, but seventy times seven. Love is not even counting. 

Love always perseveres. Love never gives up. It is unconquerable, indomitable. Love can outlast hate and evil and indifference. Love can outlast anything. Donald Grey Barnhouse wrote, “It is…the one thing that stands after all else has fallen.”1 

We live in a skeptical world, and it would be safe to say that there are not many worldly people who believe in a love like this. They may wish for it, wanting to be loved in this way. But most would say with some bitterness that to hope for true love in this world is a delusion. 

What a pity this is! Because exactly this love has come into our world in the person of Jesus Christ, and love is to be shown by those who are His disciples. Do you remember 1 John 4? That is the chapter in which the disciple who leaned on Christ’s bosom at the Last Supper tells us in classic language that “God is love” (v. 8). He follows it up by saying that the exhibition of God’s love is in the death of Jesus for our sins. “No one has ever seen God,” he says. But then, “If we love each other, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” (v. 12). In other words, the world cannot see God, but they can see Him in the way Christians love each other. 

1Donald Grey Barnhouse, “Love—the Great Indispensable” in Lest You Be Hypocrites, booklet 70 in the series of expositions on Romans (Philadelphia: The Bible Study Hour, 1957), 11.

Study Questions
  1. What are the four things love always does?
  2. Who does love protect?
  3. What is love’s response in the face of rejection?
  4. How does God demonstrate His love? How do we demonstrate God’s love?

Reflection: How do you see Jesus loving others according to 1 Corinthians 13?

Prayer: Thank the Lord for the strengths your church shows in loving one another. In what areas might Christian love be lacking in your church? Pray for God to teach your brothers and sisters how to truly love one another. Ask the Lord to show you where you can demonstrate love in the body of Christ.

For Further Study: Download and listen for free to James Boice’s message, “The Love of God.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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