Read: 1 Corinthians 13

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (v. 13)

Love is the greatest and most costly Christian virtue, and it is the way in which we most imitate God. God does not need fortitude, temperance, or prudence because he is omnipotent and omniscient. But God is love. We could cultivate all of the other virtues, but if we miss love, all of our hard work is for nothing.

As with the other virtues, Christian love is not a feeling. It is a condition of the will that is developed through habit and prayer. If I want to love my neighbor, I don’t need to consult my feelings about him. Instead, I need to examine my actions toward him. Am I actively seeking my neighbor’s good? The best way to love my neighbor is to act as though I do. The feelings will come later, perhaps.

Christian love is costly because it requires us to put to death our own will. This means we will have to love others even when it is extremely painful—the humility of loving an enemy, the anguish of loving a wayward child, the misery of loving an unfaithful spouse. These moments when love seems impossible are also the times when we most reflect Christ who, out of love for us, suffered death on a cross—even while we were sinners (Rom. 5:8).

Finally, love is the greatest virtue because it is lasting. When Christ returns, we will no longer need faith or hope. Then we shall see the One whom we love, who is Love. —Jane Olson

As you pray, ask God to show you to how to love as he has loved you.

About the Author

Jane Olson is a college counselor and high school teacher. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and children.