1 Corinthians 13:13
And now stays faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Love is supreme because —
I. IT WAS THE EXERCISE OF THIS VIRTUE THAT MADE POSSIBLE OUR DELIVERANCE FROM SIN. "God so loved the world," etc. It was Christ's love that constrained Him to do and suffer so much that the sinner might be restored. Of all the Divine attributes it is love that stands out in grandest outline.
II. THERE IS NO OTHER VIRTUE LIKE IT TO INSPIRE SACRIFICE. Love for God and for man inspired Grace Darling to imperil her life to rescue wrecked mariners from a watery grave. It moved an Elizabeth Fry to abandon home to find the criminal in his cell, and lead him to a higher life. It induces the minister of the Cross to endanger life, that he may save his heathen brother.
III. THERE IS NO OTHER SO EFFECTIVE FOR WINNING AND MAINTAINING THE GOOD-WILL OF OUR FELLOW-MEN. The man of eminence, intelligence, or affluence is envied if not hated at times by those less fortunate; but a loving man unites all classes to him, and even conquers our enemies and compels their love in return. "Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself," says Napoleon, "founded great empires; but upon what did the creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions are ready to die for Him." William Penn, who lived for many years in the midst of six warring Indian tribes in harmony and peace, assured his dusky brethren of the forest, "The great God of heaven has written His law of love upon our hearts, by which we are taught and commanded to love, to help, and to do good to each other; and to-day we meet you in the broad pathway of love and good-will, hoping no advantage may be taken on either side." While other colonists were building forts and displaying their arms, and hence involved in trouble and war, the flowers of prosperity and peace blossomed in the footprints of William Penn.
IV. THERE IS NO OTHER VIRTUE THAT SO GLADDENS THE HEART AND ENRICHES THE LIFE. Love is to the heart what summer is to the year, maturing all the noblest and grandest fruits. The man in whose heart the spirit of love abides has a sort of music within to which he may march all the day long without exhaustion. His work, whether spiritual or manual, on Sunday or Monday, is no servitude, for duty becomes a delight. Love "oils" the complex machinery of his whole being, and thus prevents the daily friction that is such an enemy to human life. Where there is love for one's work there will be no reluctance or hanging back, for love is an impelling motive.
(W. G. Thrall.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.