Learning to Love

KEY VERSE: “Now abideth faith, hope, charity [love], these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” —I Corinthians 13:13

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: I Corinthians 12:27-31; 13:1-13

GOD SO LOVED the world, we are told, “that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16

Jesus, constrained by love, willingly and gladly gave his life that Adam and his race might have an opportunity to live. And how graciously Jesus did this! In his day by day sacrificial ministry Jesus displayed the qualities of love in all that he said and did. He was long-suffering and kind; he was not envious, rash, or boastful. He was not puffed up with pride. He always conducted himself properly, and never sought his own. He was not easily provoked, and did not think evil. He did not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoiced in the truth. He was willing to bear all things, and because of his faith and hope in his Heavenly Father, he was able to endure all things.—I Cor. 13:4-7

Those who are following in the footsteps of Jesus have been called by God for a purpose. That purpose is to be co-workers with him and with our Lord Jesus in the reconciliation of a lost world, and the restoration of the people to perfection of life here on the earth. In the carrying out of that purpose much preparation is needed, and it is this work of preparation that is being accomplished during the Gospel Age. We are working out our own salvation now, and in this God is working with us to will and to do his good pleasure. (Phil. 2:12,13) God has designed that this present work of preparation for the future glorious work of the kingdom should be accomplished through cooperation, not only with him and with the Lord Jesus, but also with one another.

In his letter to the Corinthian brethren, the Apostle Paul explained how God has arranged for this cooperation to be on an orderly basis, with each individual functioning as part of a whole, these being referred to in the Scriptures as the “church,” which is the “body” of Christ.—I Cor. 12:12,13; Eph. 1:22,23

Paul then follows his lesson on the working arrangements of the New Creation with his emphasis on the importance of love, as we find it in the next chapter—I Corinthians 13. In the 12th chapter Paul speaks of the various gifts of the Spirit, and admonishes the brethren to covet earnestly the best gifts. To this Paul adds, “Yet show I unto you a more excellent way.” (vs. 31) The more excellent way he describes is one of the most beautiful and practical definitions of love in action that has ever been given, and he ends with the words of our text, “Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity [love].”—vs. 13

When the culmination of our faith and hope has been reached in the kingdom, and the knowledge of the Lord fills the earth, and the kingdom manifested on every hand, faith will not be so much needed, for “faith is the substance [Margin, ‘ground’ or ‘confidence’] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1) So far as the church is concerned, her hopes will have been realized through an abundant entrance into the kingdom. But the great principle of divine love will continue.

Even the subjects of the kingdom, as is now true with those who are being prepared to be its rulers, will need to give up their selfishness as a motivating principle in their lives, and adopt the way of love. No one will have eternal life on any plane unless he loves the Lord with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength, and his neighbor as himself. (Luke 10:27) How glorious it will be when every creature in heaven and on earth is motivated by, and filled with, this spirit of divine love!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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