Modern psychology does not always see eye-to-eye with the Bible, but in one area there is some agreement. Psychologists tell us that there are two main things that people need for full and effective lives. The first is the ability to express love, and the second is the opportunity to experience love. The person who cannot or will not love will be shriveled in his relationships. The man who is not loved, or who does not know what being loved is like, will be stunted in his own soul. We are made for relationships, so to be stunted relationally is to be impoverished personally, shriveled emotionally, and impaired socially.
The Bible uses different terminology but makes a similar point. The Corinthian Christians were very excited about their ability to use exotic spiritual gifts and engage in many exciting spiritual exercises. Yet Paul told them, “If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn’t love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1). Paul reinforced this point by asking, “If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others, what good would I be?” (13:2). He recognized that he would “be no good to anybody,” even if he could move mountains simply by speaking to them, if he did it without love (13:2).
Paul concluded, “There are three things that will endure—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love” (13:13). The “things that will endure” are the timeless, fundamental factors of experience without which humans cease to function as they should. Faith is an instinctive part of our make up—we cannot survive without trusting. Hope is also necessary—it is what keeps us going in times of despair and despondency. And there will never come a time when love is not paramount. Because love is the language of our relationships, both with God and with others, love is the greatest!
That being the case, a man is well-advised to acquaint himself with the Bible’s teaching on love—what love is and how it functions. Then a man should take seriously the apostle’s instruction: “Let love be your highest goal” (14:1). This does not mean, of course, that the gifts are insignificant, or that ministry is unimportant. It just means that love is what makes them effective. For that matter, love is what makes the world go round and our lives go forward—forever.
For Further Study: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
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