The Greatest of these … LOVE

Today, we begin a new study into the agape kind of love.  Love is an extremely large topic.  The Bible says that God himself IS LOVE (1 John 3:7-8). 

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

1 John 4:7-8 New King James Version (NKJV)

So if God is love then love is probably pretty important.  In fact, Paul says that love is the MOST important thing.  

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13 New King James Version (NKJV)

Many times we as Christians want to focus on the faith part of this equation.  Growing up in a word of faith church one of the most extensively preached topics is faith.  Verses like Hebrews 11:1 and Hebrews 11:6 became staples heard in many services.  

Faith is important.  Just as I previously quoted…

6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Hebrews 11:6 New King James Version (NKJV)

But what we forget to see sometimes is that faith works BY LOVE.  And if faith works by love and the greatest of these things is love (1 Cor. 13:13) then without LOVE it is impossible to please God. 

Right?  It is only logical that if faith works by love and without faith you can’t please God then you better know a little bit about love.

John puts it like this.

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

1 John 2:15-17 King James Version (KJV)

What is Love?

This is not such an easy question to answer.  In the Bible there are many different types of love mentioned, but the type we are talking about today is the agape kind of love.  

In christian circles, you’ll often hear the agape love called, “The God Kind of Love”.  

This is the definition we are going to work with based upon the Strong’s Greek: 26. ἀγάπη (agapé) — love, goodwill

Agape

  • love which centers in moral preference.

Agape love is to love what God is or to love what God loves.  This is the same love that was imparted to us at the new birth (John 5:42 and Romans 5:5).  And as we see from those verses this love comes by the Holy Spirit. 

Growing in Love

So if love is so important, can we grow in our love? The answer is YES!

12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:

1 Thessalonians 3:12 King James Version (KJV)

14 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.

1 Corinthians 14:1 New King James Version (NKJV)

So then if we are to be successful in our walk of faith, we need to increase in love also as we increase in faith.  

By increasing in love we increase our ability to act on our faith.

As we see above, 1 Corinthians 14:1 tells us to pursue love.  Who do we do that? How do we grow in love?

The answer is found in Matthew 24:12.  Jesus is speaking to His disciples talking about the time period we are currently in.  

He speaks in verse 10 and 11 that many will be offended and betray one another, and that many false prophets would arise. Is that not what we see happening in the world today?  People are turning on each other.  Strife and division is running rampant.  Then he says this,

12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.

Matthew 24:12 New King James Version (NKJV)

We see a cause and effect here. Because of lawlessness >>> love will grow cold. But how is this the key to growing in love?  Well, see here when lawlessness abounds the God kind of love grows cold and distant.  It would then stand to reason that when law and order – the Word – is present and abounds in our hearts that in that situation God can abound.  

The Bible says, 

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1 King James Version (KJV)
  • If God is love
  • and God is the Word
  • then the Word is love.  

If we see what 1 John and the Psalmist have to say we get a clearer picture of this love that grows in us as the Word inside of us grows.  

Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.

Psalm 119:11 New King James Version (NKJV)

8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

1 John 4:8 New King James Version (NKJV)

The word and the agape kind of love are inseparable, and because faith is gathered when we hear the word so faith and love are inseparable.  

Agape is the Greatest

But the greatest of these is love? Why? 

Is it just because love is God and God is love.  

If we go back to 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, we will see the answer.

8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is [a]perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

1 Corinthians 13:8-10 New King James Version (NKJV)

God is saying here that love will remain eternal.  Heaven and earth will pass away.  What need will we have for prophesies or for knowledge when all things will soon be known when we see Jesus face to face.  

Through all of that, however, love will remain the same.  

35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Matthew 24:35 King James Version (KJV)

God’s love will never fail.  It will never pass away because God’s love is His Word.  

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