Over the years, I’ve developed my own working theology of Paul’s discourse on love found in 1 Cor. 13. I’ve used this material in sermons, in premarital counseling, and in conversation with good friends. In particular, I’ve always been struck by Paul’s statement relative to the superior quality of love.
And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. — 1 Cor. 13.13
Best I can tell, there is an enduring, eternal quality to love that makes it greater than faith and hope. Although faith is integral to our walk with God — conviction of things not seen — faith someday becomes sight. At the revelation of Jesus Christ, our confession of His lordship will be a matter of fact, not faith (Phil. 2). The inevitable outcome of faith is sight. The same is true of hope. As essential as hope is to the life of the believer, hope culminates in the realization of our hearts deepest desires in relationship with God. When Kingdom comes, we won’t want for anything more as we experience full satisfaction in the glorious presence of the Lord. Faith and hope, important as they are in the present, reach their end (telos) in eternity.
On that day, all that will be left is love: the love God experiences within Himself, the interpenetrating divine quality that binds Father, Son, and Spirit in eternal relationship; the love God chooses to share and reveal with creation, a love most fully understood in the suffering and resurrection of Christ; and the love God’s image-bearers experience in community with one another, a self-giving and hospitable posture of reciprocally redemptive concern.
As the Psalmist writes:
Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.
This means our God’s love will reign eternal. His enduring love never ceases, never fails, never ends.
No matter how bad it gets — His love endures forever.
Christ on the cross — His love endures forever.
The empty tomb — His love endures forever.
As we commune with one another — His love endures forever.
As we weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice — His love endures forever.
To the God who is over all and through all and in all — His love endures forever.
This makes love the greatest of these.