2006-08-03 - The Greatest of These
1 Cor 13:13 But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (NASB)
Hope and faith will one day be replaced with the presence of Christ Himself. We who have accepted His gift of eternal life. If you know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, you will one day sit at the feet of Jesus with Mary and Martha and listen to Jesus teach. We will know as we are known. But love will endure.
I have mentioned this recently - the word "friend" is used very loosely in my experience today. If you are my friend, you and I are more than just acquaintances or co-workers. We have more than a casual relationship. We have worked through problems together, put time into each other and developed a loyalty that will not be broken. It is one thing to be friendly, it is another to be a friend.
In the greek language there are five different words for what we Americans lump into "love" including what we know as brotherly love (friendship), romantic love, and erotic love. These have clearly different intentions. Close friendships,the inner circle of friends, are more rare. The trust involved in these relationships is the foundation for the most durable and lasting human relationships. The love here is more selfless and centered around the friend, or loved one than around ourselves. It will endure many slings and arrows and refuse to loosen its' grip out of loyalty and care.
The greatest example of selfless caring for others is Jesus. Eleven of his disciples abandoned Jesus at His arrest in the garden. Judas betrayed Jesus. Peter, who had promised his Master that he would rather die with Jesus, denied Jesus with cursing as the rooster crowed. Only John, Jesus' mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, and a few of other women made it to the cross where Jesus was dying. After His resurrection, Jesus restored the relationships of the men who ran from the scene. This included His relationship with Peter. Peter was more subdued and humble in the relationship, but Peter also became a leader in the fledgling church.
The Apostle John reminded us to love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. If a relationship is damaged, I urge you to patiently work to repair it. It may take time and it may never quite be the same. With time to rebuild trust, the relationship can survive and grow again - like Peter was restored.
If the greatest of these is love, it is worth the effort.
Grace & Peace,