Love is by far the greatest thing in the universe but is also the thing that costs the greatest price because of the sacrifice it extracts. What is the cost of protecting someone in love? How much does always trusting cost you? What about forgiveness? Sure you may be able to forgive once, perhaps twice but forget it after the third offense. Jesus says that our love should be such that we never stop forgiving. How much will that cost you? What about pushing through to the end because of love? What price does such love extract from you? Love costs everything, your very life.
Some say love is a decision. Recently my adult son quoted something that said love is not a decision but a feeling, how else do you fall in love with one person? To me love is both because love is a force. It can't be just a decision because if it was it would go by a different name; determination. Neither can it be just a feeling or emotion because then love would be a fickle thing. Love is both and it is the greatest force in the universe because it is that perfect love that has been God's motivation in shaping everything. The Apostle Paul writes:
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 as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. vv. 8-12
Poetic but greater than good literature, it is a description and explanation that nothing is as great or as lasting as love. Love is more than basic human feeling, it is a supernatural force, and when understood, will propel us into doing great and awesome things. Without it what we do is mechanical and will pass away when we pass away.
What Paul is saying is that we put our priorities in the wrong places, we lift up things that are not so important, that we do not understand what is truly significant in life and the world. We are immature in our understanding and if we would only grow up we would put away such childish thinking. It is true that what we see and understand is merely a poor reflection of the fullness of it all but sometimes I am convinced that we do not even see the poor reflection.
Consider this verse just for a moment to understand the significance and importance of this supernatural love:
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. v. 13
These are the three most important things in your life, faith hope and love. Where do they stand as priority in your life? Does faith play a vital role? What about hope? Are you a hopeful person? Well as great as these two are they are not greater than the force of love. This is why Paul began this chapter in the way he did:
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. v. 2
Without love I am nothing. That is quite the statement. Even if I was the Prime Minister or Elbert Einstein, without love I would be nothing. And again:
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. v. 3
Without love I have gained nothing. Self-explanatory, we need more that just sacrifice in our life. I agree with Paul, when it comes to love I think we only have a "poor reflection" of understanding. It should be something we want to understand, experience and live more and more every day, never allowing ourselves to believe that we know all there is to know or possess all there is to possess. We must know it as the most powerful force in the universe and we must understand that it has to be the motivation of everything we do. Perhaps the greatest thing we must begin with is the understanding that true love is not found in ourselves but its source is the Father.
We should begin every day with the request to the Father, "Allot to me a greater portion of your love that I may love my neighbour today as you love him". This should be the goal of our life because love is the greatest commandment. It cannot be mechanical and it cannot be emotional, it must be a force that compels us:
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' vv. 34-40