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Agapē (Greek for love) is the highest form of love. It is not the physical sensual attraction, but the quality that is built on principle. This kind of love is shown between the Father and the Son (John 15:10; 17:26). And it is God’s love for lost mankind (John 15:9; 1 John 3:1; 4:9, 16). Therefore, it should be the unique quality exhibited among the believers (John 13:34, 35; 15:12–14) as they recognize the value of man as a creature for whom Christ died.
This kind of love summarizes the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13) – the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17). The first four commandments deal with his love to God and the last six commandments deal with his duty to man. Jesus said,“‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself“ (Luke 10:27).
Paul analyzes love and presents seven significant characteristics of it and eight attitudes that are completely strange to it. He writes: “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1Corinthians 13:4-7).
The gift of knowledge
Paul declared, “knowledge, it will vanish away” (1Corinthians 13:8). The apostle was not talking about knowledge in general, but the gift of knowledge, which helped the believers to preach the truth (1 Corinthians 12:8). He emphasized the superiority of love over various spiritual gifts for at the end of time, they will not be needed. “For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away” (v. 9, 10).
Wisdom alone is not enough to produce good Christian behavior. This had been shown in the problems found in the churches as a result of their so-called wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:11,12; 3:3, 4). Paul declared that it is not sufficient to depend on human wisdom for victory over sin. If the heart is not in a genuine relationship with the Lord, knowledge or science alone fails. For it merely fills a person’s heart with pride and gives him self-confidence in his own abilities. This knowledge often directs him away from true religion and distorts his mind (1 Corinthians 1:20, 21).
He who is puffed up because of his knowledge that he looks down at others and ignores their real interests shows that he has not yet learned the principles of true knowledge. The truly learned believer is humble, teachable, and considerate of others.
Love is the answer
The solution to the sin problem and the way to have a victorious Christian walk with the Lord should not be built upon abstract knowledge or gifts of the Spirit alone, but upon genuine love for God and others. A person’s motives should be founded on the principle of charity. This is the answer to every doctrinal, moral, and social problem.
As a manner of life, love is more powerful, more victorious, more satisfying, than having the various gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:31). The Bible describes God as love (1 John 4:8). Therefore, His children should reflect His character of love. That is why the apostle teaches that above all gifts of the Spirit, love is the greatest (1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 John 4:7, 8, 16).
Love for God and our fellow men is the highest illustration of living in harmony with His will (Matthew 22:37–40). Charity expressed in the life of the Christian is the great test of the truthfulness of his Christianity (Isaiah 58:6–8; Matthew 25:34–40). Therefore, love is more important than the gifts of the Spirit which include knowledge (1 Corinthians 13: 1, 2). For the Lord is pleased only by the ministry of true love (John. 14:15, 21, 23; 1 John 4:11, 12).
In His service,