Faith, Hope, and Love — the Greatest of these is Love

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Christian Agape Love

The first outgoing of the renewed soul to God
We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
The sure evidence of a saving work of grace in the soul
The fruit of the Spirit is love. (Galatians 5:22)
rooted and grounded in love. (Ephesians 3:17)
The path in which all the true children of God are found
walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us (Ephesians 5:2)
hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love (Colossians 2:2)
put on the breastplate of faith and love. (1 Thessalonians 5:8)
The fullness and completeness of their Christian character
made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)
The spirit through which they may fulfill all the divine acquirements
love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:10)
How to become like their Father in heaven and fitted for his presence
God is love. (1 John 4:8)
faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven (Colossians 1:5)

–Adapted from Introduction by Tyrone Edwards
to Charity and its fruits by Jonathan Edwards

Love is the best way of all

Keep on desiring the better gifts. And now I will show you the best way of all. (1 Corinthians 12:31)

12:27-31 Contempt, hatred, envy, and strife, are very unnatural in Christians. It is like the members of the same body being without concern for one another, or quarrelling with each other. The proud, contentious spirit that prevailed, as to spiritual gifts, was thus condemned. The offices and gifts, or favours, dispensed by the Holy Spirit, are noticed. Chief ministers; persons enabled to interpret Scripture; those who laboured in word and doctrine; those who had power to heal diseases; such as helped the sick and weak; such as disposed of the money given in charity by the church, and managed the affairs of the church; and such as could speak divers languages. What holds the last and lowest rank in this list, is the power to speak languages; how vain, if a man does so merely to amuse or to exalt himself! See the distribution of these gifts, not to every one alike, ver. 29,30. This were to make the church all one, as if the body were all ear, or all eye. The Spirit distributes to every one as he will. We must be content though we are lower and less than others. We must not despise others, if we have greater gifts. How blessed the Christian church, if all the members did their duty! Instead of coveting the highest stations, or the most splendid gifts, let us leave the appointment of his instruments to God, and those in whom he works by his providence. Remember, those will not be approved hereafter who seek the chief places, but those who are most faithful to the trust placed in them, and most diligent in their Master’s work.Matthew Henry Commentary

Love is the sum of all virtue

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1)
There is no proof of ignorance more common than conceit of knowledge. Much may be known, when nothing is known to good purpose. And those who think they know any thing, and grow vain thereon, are the least likely to make good use of their knowledge.Matthew Henry Commentary
If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2)
These are the most excellent things known to man; the most excellent privileges, and the most excellent performances. Yet, without love, they are nothing.Charity and its fruits by Jonathan Edwards
If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;a but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:3)
Great things that these, no natural man ever had or did, and they are the kind of things in which men are exceedingly prone to trust; and yet the apostle declares that if we have them all, and have not charity, we are nothing.Charity and its fruits by Jonathan Edwards

All the virtue that is saving, and that distinguishes true Christians from others, is summed up in Christian love

This appears from the words of the text, because so many other things are mentioned that natural men may have, and the things mentioned are of the highest kind it is possible they should have, both of privilege and performance, and yet it is said they avail nothing with this; whereas, if any of them were saving, they would avail something without it.
And by the apostle’s mentioning so many and so high things, and then saying of them all, that they profited nothing without charity, we may justly conclude, that there is nothing at all that avails anything without it. Let a man have what he will, and do what he will, it signifies nothing without charity; which surely implies that charity is the great thing, and that everything which has not charity in some way contained or implied in it, is nothing, and that this charity is the life and soul of all religion, without which all things that wear the name of virtues are empty and vain.Charity and its fruits by Jonathan Edwards

Love is the sum of all that is contained in the law of God, and of all the duties required in his word

The Scriptures teach this of the law and word of God in general. … But, whether we take the law as signifying only the ten commandments, or as including the whole written word of God, the Scriptures teach us that the sum of all that is required in it is love. Thus, when by the law is meant the ten commandments, it is said in Romans 13:8, “He that loved another hath fulfilled the law;” and therefore several of the commandments are rehearsed, and it is added in the tenth verse, that “love” (which leads us to obey them all) “is the fulfilling of the law.” Now, unless love was the Sum of what the law requires, the law could not be wholly fulfilled in love; for a law is fulfilled only by obedience to the sum or whole of what it contains and enjoins. So the same apostle again declares (1 Timothy 1:5), “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure hear, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned,” &c. Or if we take the law in a yet more extensive sense, as the whole written word of God, the Scriptures still teach us, that love is the sum of all required in it. In Matthew 22:40, Christ teaches, that on the two precepts of loving God with all the heart, and our neighbor as ourselves, hang all the law and the prophets, I.e. all the written word of God; for what was then called the law and the prophets, was the whole written word of God that was then extant.Charity and its fruits by Jonathan Edwards

Love is much to be preferred to the gifts on which the Corinthians prided themselves

13:8-13 Charity is much to be preferred to the gifts on which the Corinthians prided themselves. From its longer continuance. It is a grace, lasting as eternity. The present state is a state of childhood, the future that of manhood. Such is the difference between earth and heaven. What narrow views, what confused notions of things, have children when compared with grown men! Thus shall we think of our most valued gifts of this world, when we come to heaven. All things are dark and confused now, compared with what they will be hereafter. They can only be seen as by the reflection in a mirror, or in the description of a riddle; but hereafter our knowledge will be free from all obscurity and error. It is the light of heaven only, that will remove all clouds and darkness that hide the face of God from us. To sum up the excellences of charity, it is preferred not only to gifts, but to other graces, to faith and hope. Faith fixes on the Divine revelation, and assents thereto, relying on the Divine Redeemer. Hope fastens on future happiness, and waits for that; but in heaven, faith will be swallowed up in actual sight, and hope in enjoyment. There is no room to believe and hope, when we see and enjoy. But there, love will be made perfect. There we shall perfectly love God. And there we shall perfectly love one another. Blessed state! how much surpassing the best below! God is love, 1Jo 4:8,16. Where God is to be seen as he is, and face to face, there charity is in its greatest height; there only will it be perfected.Matthew Henry Commentary

The application of this great love, so we may use it in the way of self-examination, instruction, and exhortation

CHRISTIAN AGAPE LOVE is better than the best possible performance of the most incredible religious person. It is the goal and the result of the entire written word of God from Alpha to Omega, from the beginning to the end, from the Garden of Eden to the New Jerusalem, from Adam to you. It never started any argument, fight, battle, or war because it does what’s in the best interest of the other person. It is the answer to every possible problem in the home, the family, the neighborhood, the church, the city, the state, the country, the world, and the universe.

What have you aspired to? Have you aspired to the gifts of the spirit? Have you aspired to a high important church office? Have you aspired to Bible study involving apologetics, exegesis, and hermeneutics? Have you aspired to scientific knowledge? Have you aspired to faith? Have you aspired to the mission field. Have you aspired to serving the homeless? Have you given everything you posses to the poor? Have you done so much that others are jealous of your boasting? Even the greatest possible achievement of anyone in any of these things is nothing compared to love. Even if you have achieved all those things, but don’t have love, you have nothing. Even the Apostle Paul, who could out boast anyone in religious zeal, said, “But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all.”

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