THE GREATEST OF THESE.
Hurray! It’s the month of love.
I find it interesting and also odd that popular culture has limited Valentine’s Day to a day for romantic love. It may be historical or it may be just to commodify the day more. I know that there is more to love than romantic love (Eros love). The entire bible is God’s “66-book” love letter to us. When more people have an understanding of God’s love, there will be more love and more peace in the world.
Since I was young (and till now), I have been captivated by the book of 1 Corinthians Chapter 13. It’s a chapter of the bible that “gets me every time”. The verses, from 1 – 13, brilliantly sum up what love is, the character of love and the attributes of love. Reading from the Revised Standard Version, the chapter is divided into 3 parts; in the first part, which are verses 1 – 3, the apostle Paul explains the greatness of love, through notable comparisons. Verses 4 to 7 describe the attributes of love and the antitheses of love. The next verses, 8 – 13, further elaborate the features of love.
From verses 1 – 3, the comparisons used to describe love are very noteworthy: speaking in tongues, prophesy and knowledge, faith so strong that it can move mountains or even giving all of one’s possession to the poor, if done without love amounts to nothing. So if you are going to do all these great things, and you do not have love or love others, you are just making noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal, your actions are just actions. The Message version of 1 Corinthians 13: 3 reads “So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love”.
Now unto the second part, which is 1 Corinthians 13 from verses 4 – 7, patience and kindness are attributes of love. The Apostle Paul then goes further to state the antithesis of love – what love is not. He did not only say what love is, he went further to tell the people of Corinth what love is not. Love is not jealous or boastful, it is not arrogant or rude, it is not irritable or resentful and it does not rejoice about injustice. This second part really brings love down to our level as everyday people. Not all of us have the gift of prophesy and not all of us can give all we own to the poor, but we have the capacity to be patient and kind and to care for others. Next time you find yourself being irritable or resentful, look inward and ask yourself, am I living a life of love?
There is a place for Eros love, what we know as romantic love. If anything, romantic love is just a glimpse, a peek, a foretaste of God’s love for us. God’s love is a self-sacrificial kind of love, God loves us so much “that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” – Romans 5: 8 (Revised Standard Version). The book of Ephesians 5:25, tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, by laying down his own life for the church, The Message version of the same verse says that the love of Christ is a “love marked by giving, not getting.”
There are other types of love such as Familial / Storge love (between family / relatives), Philia (between friends) and Agape love which is God’s love for humanity, the highest form of love. There is a place for the different types of love applicable to our daily lives, we cannot love everyone like a husband loves a wife or vice versa, but we can try to emulate the love of God. An overlapping feature of love is selflessness, even if it is by being patient with and kind to our neighbour. When we do this we should remember we are following a commandment, Matthew 22:39 “You shall love your neighbour as yourself”. This means that it is expected that we love ourselves, because if you have not loved yourself, how will you love your neighbour?
Thank you for reading this much, but what I have been laboring to say is that, many things we are looking for can be found in love. Out of the three things that will help us build a lasting relationship with God and lead us to live a better life – being faith, hope and love, the greatest of these is love.
Please have faith, and be hopeful, but know that love surpasses all.
Ifeoluwa Jaiyesimi. ©
The Revolutionary Righter. ©