George Shamblin is today’s guest blogger. George is a pastor, teacher and published author who has been on staff at The Center since 2012. He is passionate about discipling men and helping them wrestle through what it means to be a Christian and a man in today’s world. This blog first appeared on georgeshamblin.com. Thank you George for this timely Valentine’s Day message. – Richard
In the annals of the Persian kings, there’s a story about the wife of one of Cyrus’ generals. When she was charged with treason and condemned to die, her husband went before Cyrus falling on his face, pleading, “Oh King, take my life instead of hers. Let me die in her place.” Cyrus said, “love like that must not be spoiled by death,” and he extended a full pardon. As the couple walked away, the husband said to his wife, “did you notice how kindly the king looked upon us when he gave you the pardon?” The wife replied, “I had no eyes for the King. I saw only the man who was willing to die in my place.”
Stories such as those benefit believers in more ways than one. Especially in the topsy-turvy times in which we live. We need to be reminded of what self-sacrificial love looks like, especially within a society that elevates the individual self above all else. Such accounts of love being selfless rather than self-seeking can help solidify our faith, increase our hope, and press us a little deeper into the profound nature of The Savior’s love for us.
Anytime I see faith, hope, and love all lumped together (like above), I can’t help but recall the 99% of weddings where 1st Corinthians 13:13 is quoted: “But now faith, hope, and love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Even a movie like “Wedding Crashers” couldn’t resist poking fun at its predictability. But have you ever stopped to wonder exactly why love stands tallest among the three? To answer that question, we’ll first go over some definitions, then describe certain limitations, and finally, conclude by coming full circle.
- Faith is defined as “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
- Hope means trusting and waiting expectantly for a future event not yet realized.
- Love, on the other hand, finds no better definition than John 15:13: “there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
If faith and hope are removed, what can be said for love? Because love knows no bounds, it is timeless and endures forever; it is by far the greatest of the three. As Psalm 100:5 states, “His steadfast love endures forever!” If love outlives everything, wouldn’t it only make sense to study, practice, and apply it here on earth in preparation for all eternity? It’s a question worth considering.
And one last exercise to leave you with, built off of a quote I recently read:
Why not reach out to one such individual around Valentine’s Day, showing love and extending grace to an “undeserving” recipient. Sounds pretty familiar, you know? What better way to prepare for heaven than practicing unconditional love that way. Which truly is, the greatest of them all.
Read more by George Shamblin here.