Let’s say that I could speak lots of different languages. Or, better still, talk like an angel in some kind of heavenly language. That would be pretty amazing, wouldn’t it? But if I did it selfishly and without the kind of love that comes from God it would be meaningless. Noise and nothing more.
Or let’s say that I could predict the future or pass on secret messages from God. Or, better still, that I could move a mountain by just believing that it would move. Incredible, yeah?
Or what if I was unbelievably generous and gave everything I had to the poor? Or even sacrificed my life for some noble cause? Admirable, yeah?
But if I did any of these things selfishly, without the love that comes from God, they would be worth nothing. No use to me or anyone else.
You see, a person who loves like God is patient. I bet you could give an example from the Bible of God’s patience, or an example from your own life of someone who has been patient with you.
A person who loves like God is also kind. Go on, share another example.
And here’s what people who love like God do not do: they don’t sit around wishing they had what other people have. Why do you think that feeling is unloving?
They don’t stick out their chests and boast about how great they are or make a big deal of themselves, either. Do you know anyone who does that? Why is that unloving?
What’s more, they don’t act like they are better than everyone else. And they are not rude to other people. Do you see how those two things might be connected? Have you ever had to deal with someone who acted like that?
They don’t insist on always getting their own way.
And they don’t get irritated over every little thing that goes wrong.
And when someone hurts them, they don’t hang on to hurt and keep thinking about it and wish the worst for that person.
In fact, they are never happy when something bad happens to someone else.
What makes them happy is when what is right and good and true wins out.
Because, you see, people who love like God does are willing to deal with anything that goes wrong, even if it costs them. They are willing to trust God and believe the best about others. They live in hope for a better future. And they are committed to doing all this for the long haul, for as long as it takes – just like God does with each of us. They simply don’t give up. They go on loving with a love that never ends.
All that amazing-sounding stuff I mentioned earlier – telling the future and speaking in heavenly languages and receiving special knowledge from God – will end one day. The day will come when that stuff won’t be necessary any longer.
Why? Because what we only see partially about God now will one day be shown to us fully.
It’s like we’re children now. There’s only so much we understand. But one day we’ll be grown up.
It’s like we’re looking at God through a dirty window now. But one day we’ll see him face to face, and we’ll know him as clearly as he has known us all along.
Because what lasts is faith: the trust we put in God.
And because what lasts is hope: the conviction that he has something better in store for us.
And because what lasts is love: the love God has shown us and that he wants us to show each other.
And which of these three is best?
I’m sure you’ve guessed it, haven’t you?
The greatest of these is love.