by John Cobb
We are told in 1 Corinthians 13 that anything done without love is worthless, that “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”, and that “love never ends” (vv. 4–7). Love will never be extinguished in this world, or in the world to come.
This is a difficult truth for us to comprehend. One reason is because we are so accustomed to things failing: our friendships, our cars, our electricity, our best ideas, ourselves, and the list goes on. Another reason is that our minds are not able to comprehend something that lasts forever. For help in understanding everlasting love, we have to turn to the ultimate example of biblical love and its implications.
First, we must acknowledge that God is love and is loving in all He does: “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love… . So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love … (1 John 4:8, 16). This is made manifest when God sent His only Son into the world so that we might be saved and live through Him (v. 9, John 3:16). God’s love is made manifest not just by sending His Son into the world, but especially through God’s Son dying on behalf of all those who trust in Him. Why did God do this? Because God is love.
For this reason, we are called in 1 John 4:7 to “love one another, for love is from God.” That is followed by a stern warning in verse 8 in which “anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Any love we may posses is only possible because God first loved us (v. 9).
We did not do anything to earn or deserve this love; it is a gift from God. And with this gift, we can accomplish amazing things. God, who cannot be seen, is manifested when we love one another (v. 12). So, when we love, we are not only being an encouragement to one another, but we are also a witness to the world that God is love. God not only allows us to experience His love, but He has provided us the unspeakable privilege to let the world see Him through our love.
In our short time on earth, we will experience many failures — including our ability to love one another. Our encouragement should come from looking to God and His Word for the one thing that will never fail — His everlasting love.