1 Corinthians 13:13
And now stays faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
1. The first thing that must strike every mind, apart from the exceeding beauty of the description, is the many-sidedness of the quality portrayed. It is not one virtue, such as that to which in common speech we have limited the name of charity, but all virtues in one that the apostle is here describing.
2. But the many-sidedness of love is not the only ground of its supremacy. St. Paul next draws attention to its permanence. "Love never faileth," and in this respect he again contrasts it with those spiritual gifts which first occasioned the mention of it.
3. And this brings us to the last of the contrasts suggested in this marvellous chapter. Love is not only above all gifts, it is many-sided while they are single; it is permanent while they are fleeting; but it is chief also among the graces which abide, because while they are in their very nature incomplete, it is already stamped with the mark of perfection. Truth may change, or rather the opinions which passed for truth, but the blessed three, faith, hope, and love, shall abide; faith the evidence, hope the earnest, love the very foretaste of heaven. There is no putting of these away as childhood passes into manhood. They were born with our birth, they will follow us to the grave. They are, whether we will or no, the links which bind us to the invisible. And of these love is the greatest, greater than faith, which is trust in God; greater than hope, which is desire after Him. It is the source of them both. It is God's own likeness already revealed in our hearts. Doubtless in this our present state, love is very far from perfect — God knows how weak it is, how partial, how selfish — but in so far as it is love, I say, it has upon it the stamp of perfection. It is the grace which brought Christ down to earth. It is the grace, the only grace that raises man to heaven. Is your life and mine in any sense an endeavour to follow after the pre-eminent grace of love? To decide the question, let us take St. Paul's description, and honestly try ourselves thereby.
(E. M. Young, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.