Agree/Disagree – Love is the supreme virtue of the Christian faith.
In Galatians 5:22,23 the Apostle Paul notes the contrast between the fruit of the Spirit of God and the activities of our sinful natures. He writes, ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love….’ A list of nine aspects of the Spirit’s activity and the FIRST is love.
In 2 Peter 1:5-9 the Apostle Peter urges the acquisition of virtues that will ‘…keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ In this list of eight virtues, the EIGHTH (final) is love.
In John 13:34,35 the first followers of Jesus Christ, who had grown up in a commandment-saturated faith, namely Judaism, are given a NEW commandment, one uniquely commanded and crafted by their Master. Jesus states, ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’
So, is love the beginning? the end? or the essence of the Christian faith?
In chapter fifteen, á Kempis, pens several sentences on charity, an older word equivalent to love. Here my comments are italicized.
1) Never do evil for anything in the world, or for the love of any man (person).
What motivates the ‘doing of evil?’ What ‘drives’ people of all ages, both genders and all races to think, say and do evil deeds?
2) Without charity, external work is of no value, but anything done in charity, be it ever so small and trivial, is entirely fruitful inasmuch as God weighs the love with which a man acts rather than the deed itself.
Significant observation, isn’t it?1 Corinthians 13 affirms that all spiritual gifts must be combined with love if they are to have any lasting spiritual impact. Even small deeds may be fruitful when motivated with the right purposes. Think of the value of a cup of cold water in the operating manual of the Master.
3) He does well who serves the common good rather than his own interests.
I marvel at Paul’s observation in Philippians 2:21. Writing of Christians, he notes, ‘For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.’ The contrasting conduct of Timothy stood out in stark contrast with the general run-of-the-mill believer. I wonder how ‘different’ we are from others. The real standard of comparison is not the conduct of other ‘Christians’ but the flawless, selfless example of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5-11)
4) ….he who has true and perfect charity seeks self in nothing, bu searches all things for the glory of God.
I have been thinking, in recent days, of a former member of a congregation I served in Northern Ontario. At his funeral, I shared this hymn –
Lord, help me live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayer shall be for others.
Others, Lord, yes, others, Let this my motto be;
Help me to live for others, That I may live like Thee.
Help me in all the work I do
To ever be sincere and true,
And know that all I’d do for You
Must needs be done for others.
Let “Self” be crucified and slain
And buried deep: and all in vain
May efforts be to rise again,
Except to live for others.
So when my work on earth is done,
And my new work in heav’n’s begun,
I’ll praise You for the crown I’ve won,
But praise You more for others.
Let’s live today and every day Sola Deo Gloria – to the glory of God alone! The God who redefined love at the cross calls to us today!