And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
I Corinthians 13:13
Paul’s reason for regarding love as the supreme possession in a single, simple phrase is that “it lasts!”
Love never fails.
As Americans, we can easily fix our gaze on and hold tightly to many things that are temporary and fleeting. Educators put high value in the acquisition of knowledge, but even knowledge about the world we live in vanishes. Old editions of the great encyclopedias are worth little today. What mere decades ago was the pride of a community can now be found in today’s junkyards. Phonograph records have been replaced by tape cassettes, which have been replaced by CDs and DVDs, which are rapidly being replaced by flash memory. How long will it be before CDs become extinct?
Things in use today may not even be remembered by future generations.
Certainly the local post office is on its way to extinction. Newspapers are being replaced by website news. Fewer and fewer bookstores exist with readers turning to e-versions. With debit cards and online banking, will today’s young kids even know what a cheque is? And what about land line telephones?
Just this week, a young student came into the school office to call his mom, but had no idea how to use the desk phone. Growing up, my family used a party phone line- shared by several neighbors. Imagine that! I would often hear the soft breathing of my grandmother who lived down the road and loved to listen in on my phone conversations. Party lines evolved into single family lines and my own kids enjoyed the latest cordless versions. Today, a shared family phone is rare with most considering it necessary for each and every family member to own their own cell phone.
We live in a world that is but for a little while- a temporary dwelling place.
Henry Drummond in The Greatest Thing in the World said that “nothing that it contains is worth the life and consecration of an immortal soul. The immortal soul must give itself to something that is immortal.”
He went on to say, “Covet, therefore, that everlasting gift, that one thing which is certain is going to stand, that one coinage which will be current in the universe when all the other coinages of all the nations of the world shall be useless and dishonored. You will give yourselves to many things: give yourself first to love. Hold things in proportion.”
When I look back on my life, the moments that stand out, the times when I felt most alive, happen to be those moments when I did things in the spirit of genuine love. It stands to reason that only a deeper, fuller, love can compete with the love of the world- “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” (I John 2: 16)
To quote Henry Drummond one last time:
“The test of religion, the final test of religion, is not religiousness, but love. By what we have not done, by sins of omission, we are judged. For the withholding of love is the negation of the Spirit of Christ, the proof that we never knew Him, that for us He lived in vain. It means that He suggested nothing in all of our thoughts, that He inspired nothing in all our lives, that we were not once near enough to Him to be seized with the spell of His compassion for the world.”
Hold things in proportion.
Model what is most important to your children, “before you go away and are no more.” (Ending to Psalm 39, a lament about the brevity of life)