The Greatest Of These Is Love
Singer George Benson put out a song in 1977 entitled “The Greatest Love of All.” The song quickly rose to the top of the charts and later was further popularized by Whitney Houston. At face value, the title would hint at a song about the love of God. If you listen to the song, or read its lyrics, you’ll discover that the song is not about God at all. The ‘greatest love’ the author is referring to is as the chorus suggests, “learning to love yourself.”
The Bible in no uncertain terms declares that love is the highest of virtues – coming straight from the nature of God (1 Corinthians 13:13) and that we are to love as God has first loved us (1 John 4:7-8, 19). The highest expression of love however, is not to love ourselves, but rather God first and others second (Matthew 22:37-39). In fact, self-love is not mandated or even encouraged in the Bible, it is assumed. We naturally love ourselves and easily look toward our own self concerns above others, even above God. In addressing marital love, the apostle Paul instructs husbands to love their wives like they already love their own bodies – by feeding and caring for their needs. And in the second great commandment, to love our neighbor as ourselves, we are expected to care about the needs and concerns of our neighbors as we naturally care about our own needs and concerns.
This year’s Bold Faith Initiative gives each of us a directly applicable assignment – to love our literal neighbors as if we’re loving ourselves. That’s God’s kind of love flowing through us and into people we are befriending and learning to care about. We are impelled to go next door and lend a hand where needed; or to stop someone on the sidewalk and strike up a conversation; or to take a meal to the new parents three doors down; or to invite the elderly couple over for a cook out Friday evening.
These promote the truly greatest love of all – God’s love for the world. And it’s manifest through us in obedience to his command to practically care for the people He has placed around us on a daily basis. Imagine the impact in your own life, or in your church, or in our county if all of us (possibly several thousand strong) simply obeyed that second great commandment on a regular, ongoing basis. Gear up, because that’s exactly what God intended for us to experience and what He wants us to share – the greatest love of all.