The Greatest of These Is Love
March 1, 2017 | View PDF
Karen Carpenter was the preeminent voice of the 70s. Along with her brother Richard she sold 160 million record albums. Karen sang love songs. “We’ve Only Just Begun” has been used at countless weddings over the years since she introduced it to the world.
But in his book, “Little Girl Blue,” Randy L. Schmidt revealed that Karen Carpenter searched for love and never seemed to find it. Another of her songs is autobiographic: “I'll say goodbye to love / no one ever cared if I should live or die / time and time again the chance for love has passed me by / and all I know of love is how to live without it / I just can't seem to find it.”
Carpenter died on February 4, 1983 at age 32. Hers is a story of supreme sadness.
The 1980 movie, “Urban Cowboy,” featured the song, "Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places." This is a good summary of our world.
In our search for love, we need to start at right place, and the Bible says, “God is love.”
The Greeks had more verbs than we do. We use the single verb “love” when we say, “I love my wife,” “I love my cat” or “I love yogurt.” The Greeks had “philos” for brotherly love and “eros” for passionate love. But they also had “agape” used exclusively in the New Testament to describe the love of God.
The Apostle Paul wrote that God demonstrated the depth of his “agape” by sending Christ to die for us, and now God has placed his “agape” in our hearts (Romans 5:12, 5). So the progression is that God, who is love, showed his love for us and now has placed his love in our hearts. And it is this love that demonstrates to the world that we are Christians according to Jesus (John 13:35).
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 describes God’s love in the heart of Christians. Paul insisted that love doesn’t focus on itself, love values others, love is kind to others, love is not angry with others and love doesn’t seek revenge.
Christian art has used three symbols for the three abiding principles Paul wrote about. Faith is represented by the cross, hope by the anchor and love by the heart. All are important. Without faith, we couldn’t become Christians since salvation mandates we have faith in God’s work through Christ. Hope gives us the will to endure when things are tough. But Paul concluded that the greatest of these is love. God’s agape in our hearts roots out the things that shouldn’t be there and molds us into the image of Christ who is our greatest example.
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster, Ala. The church's website is siluriabaptist.com.