Monday, November 15, 2010

The Greatest Gift: Love........GOD'S LOVE Patricia Smith

I Corinthians 13: 1-13

1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I
have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the
gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though
I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am
nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I
give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade
itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own,
is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but
rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all
things, endures all things.

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 perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I
thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in
part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 

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


More songs have been written about love than about any other topic. It has
inspired some of the world's best, and worst, poetry. It has set on fire,
and broken, countless hearts throughout human history. Many things are said
about love. Yet for the final word on the topic, we must turn to the Bible.
In  <bibleverse:1Co:13> 1 Cor. 13, the apostle Paul, under the inspiration
of the Holy Spirit, provides the world's most beautiful ode to love.

There are three different words for love in the Greek language.  They are
'Phileo', 'Eros', and 'Agape'.   Phileo love suggests the esteem and
affection found in a casual friendship. Eros love suggests physical sexual
desire and not much else.  Because neither of these words came close to
describing the kind of love Paul wanted to communicate, he chose a
relatively rare Greek word for his definitive passage on love.  That word is
agape.  Agape describes a love that is based on the deliberate choice of the
one who loves rather than the worthiness of the one who is loved. This kind
of love
 goes against natural human inclination.  Paul's description of love
is short but full of power in I Corinthian 13. It is a giving, selfless,
expect-nothing in return kind of love.  Agape love is also described in
another book in the bible - The Song of Solomon.  In the Song of Solomon,
Agape is described as unconditional love.  It's the love that God has for
us.  Agape is God's unconditional love.

Love suffers for a long time. Our modern "throw-away" society encourages us
to get rid of people in our lives who are difficult to get along with,
whether they are friends, family, or acquaintances. Yet this attitude runs
in complete contrast to the love described by Paul. True love puts up with
people who would be easier to give up on.  Love does not envy.  If our love
is directed toward others, we will rejoice in the blessings they receive
rather than desiring those blessings for ourselves.  Fundamentally, the
selfless love that God calls us to does not involve pride or glory. It does
not parade itself and is not puffed up. In fact, true love does not seek its
own. If we truly love others, we will set aside our own plans, agendas, and
entitlements for the good of another.

Love is not provoked. That is, love is not easily angered or over-sensitive.
When we truly love others, we are careful not be touchy concerning other
people's words or actions towards us.  Love does not rejoice in iniquity,
but rejoices in the truth.  The Godly love described in I Corinthians 13 has
nothing to do with evil, but has everything to do with what is right and true. 

It believes all things and hopes all things. This does not mean that love is
blind or naive. When we love, we may recognize problems and failures in
people, but we do not lose faith in the possibilities of what people might
become.  Love never gives up, knowing that God can change lives for the
better.  Love never fails.  Love continues forever.  <bibleverse:1Co:13:13>
13:13   Faith enables us to come to God (see  <bibleverse:Heb:11:6> Heb.
11:6), but love enables us to imitate Him.   <bibleverse:1Co:14:1> 14:1."
There are many things in life that we can simply take or leave, but love is
not one of them.

Finally, love endures all things.  Love accepts any hardship or rejection,
and continues unabated to build up and encourage. The love described by Paul
in this "love chapter" means determining what is best for another person and
then doing it.  This is the kind of love that God shows us.  This is that
unconditional Agape Love.   

Agape Love is 

God's unconditional Love that we should have for one another.  

The Greatest Gift:  Love


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