The Greatest Of These Is Love

It was a beautiful scene. I looked around the dinner table, ten of us in total. It had been a perfect evening, filled with laughter, meaningful conversation and sincere friendship. I didn’t want the evening to end. As I surveyed my dinner companions, I realized they had known each

other most of their lives. Several had gone to grade school together. Others were college sweethearts. All had raised their children together. They knew each other very, very well. Almost too well. The stories that flew that night were of past escapades, where they narrowly escaped danger or disaster. They finished each others’ sentences, reminding them of minute details, always with uproariously laughter. These people had a history together. There was alcoholism, there was infidelity, there were miscarriages, parole officers, broken bones and the time when the champagne glasses were found in the bottom of the pool. But through it all, marriages had stayed together, children made it through college, and friendships were intact. I looked around the table and I realized this was a living picture of what God is all about. Though not a soul at the table would say they were a saint, (the tales testified to that!) over time, they lived out God’s everlasting love in their small community that was authentic and tangible.

I think of the Hebrew word “hesed” which means “everlasting love” or “unfailing love” and how it is characterized by steadfastness, loyalty, and faithfulness. It endures the test of time. But the word is also almost always coupled with mercy. In order to stand the test of time, some mercy and forgiveness is going to be required. So it is strong, html(truncated_bio); }); In less than five years, pop singer rose from being a Canadian kid posting videos of himself singing on YouTube to, in 2012, being named the third-most powerful celebrity in the world by Forbes magazine. elastic and forgiving. The concept of “hesed” or “unfailing love” is not just commitment and the fulfillment of a promise, but speaks of a highly personal involvement characterized by love that surpasses what is required by law. So the law may link individuals in relationship by stroke of a pen on paper, but it is the engaged heart, the committed will, the steadfast mind that will keep it together. This is God’s way with us.

How then shall we act out this love in our lives? At any given moment, most of us want to think of ourselves as loyal, or forgiving, or at least able to keep a commitment. But “unfailing” love is asking something of us that is outside the bounds of our natural ability. It is asking that our love never fail. Ask anyone who wakes up, morning after morning, carrying more burden than is their due, strung out in responsibilities and commitments. On top of all that, don’t let your love fail? How do we have the strength day to day to hang in there with our loved ones, with our friends when their lives are falling apart, with our children who don’t want to listen, and the neighbors we are not even sure that we like? How do we hang in there with them?

Only with God. “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he as given us.” (Romans 5: 5) Unfailing love is only given by God, because he is the only one who does not fail, cannot fail. His love for us is based on his covenant to us. And he will not disappoint, “For nbso he who promised is faithful!” (Hebrews 10:23) We are assured of his unending love for us.

We can never get to the bottom of it, or the end of it. We cannot exhaust the supply. If we build our relationships on our own limited capacity, they will falter. But if we build them on God’s capacity, love will go on. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19).

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So the question is not how much do we love, but how much has He loved us.

God’s love for us goes on, from everlasting to everlasting. That will be the store we draw upon each morning. At the end of the day, we shall look around the table, at all those with whom we have endured, and say this has been perfect. Not flawless, but complete. The way love is. And we will never want it to end. When all the details are forgotten and fade, and when our flesh begins to fail, only our faith and hope and love will remain, but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14


The above post is an excerpt from my new book, Hand in Hand. Keep me in your prayers as I continue the edit process, and let me know what you think.

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