Peter tells us in 1 Peter 4:8: Above all things have fervent love among yourselves. Above all things, for love will cover a multitude of sins. And John goes further with his profound statement: God is Love. Paul identified Love as the “Summum Bonum” of all graces. “The Supreme Good.” Yes, love is the greatest thing of all.
Pointing to love as the “Supreme Good'” is no prejudice on his part. Love was not Paul’s strong point in his early years. He was the angry young man of Acts chapter 7, who consented to Stephen’s murder. Paul’s whole ministry was surrounded by contentions and hard talking. He had to contend with distresses, beatings, accusations, and back-bitings. He was no stranger to hero-worship nor was he free from jealousies. He was a hard-working individual, and yet one that received much criticism. Paul was ready to offer both correction and encouragement and Paul was able to be identified with soldiers and athletes alike. But an observant student can detect a maturing tenderness as Paul gets older – a graciousness that grew and ripened and mellowed with his advancing years, for it was Paul that wrote that love is the “Supreme Good. – for the greatest of all is love. 1Cor.13:13
Love is greater than faith. Paul identified faith as the essential key to unlock our hearts to God’s love.. but the end goal is greater than the means of achieving it. Love is greater than prophecy and knowledge which will one day pass. He identified prophecy as a mere signpost to point us to incarnate love.. because the final destination is greater than the signposts along the way. Love is greater than charity and all good works, for charitable works or ‘helps‘ are only one face of a pure cut diamond.. because the whole is greater than the part. Love is greater than speaking in the languages of men or of angels. for the language of praise is the channel used to glorify the Object of praise.. because God is greater than the language that praises him!
Paul shows love to be higher than sacrifice, persecution and martyrdom, for it was only through love that the ultimate sacrifice was offered, It was because God loved so dearly that He made that ultimate sacrifice. Paul takes love – the grace of all graces and in three short verses, he passes it through the magnificent, crystal prism of God’s own light-refracting it into the blessed rainbowed-spectrum of His pure love.
This multifaceted spectrum of compound love ripples into a multi-hued gem. The nine virtues in this spectrum of love equal the “Summum Bonum“. This polychromatic spectrum of love makes up the “Supreme Good”:-
Patience : for love suffers long.
Kindness : for love is kind.
Generosity : for love envieth not.
Humility : for love vaunteth not itself and is not puffed up.
Courtesy : for love does not behave itself unseemly.
Unselfishness : for love seeketh not her own.
Good temper : for love is not easily provoked.
Guilelessness : for love thinks no evil.
Sincerity : for love rejoices not in iniquity but rejoices in the truth.
Peter says: above all things have fervent love among yourselves. Above ALL things for: love will cover a multitude of sins, and John goes further with his profound statement: God is Love. Yes, Paul identified love as the “Summum Bonum” of all graces. “The Supreme Good.” – for love is the greatest thing of all.
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