Lift Up Your Hearts: The Greatest of these is Love

Who among us does not want to be loved?

Kind of a silly question I suppose. But if you really think about it, not a single human being would want to be hated, completely isolated and rejected. We know those are not good things. Yet, there are many out there who do not know how to receive love, or maybe even how to give love.

This is usually because of abuse, trauma and grave lack of love in their own lives. Usually a hardness or coldness in response to love can be a subconscious way of protecting oneself from more wounding. To some, receiving love does not look like an opportunity of fulfillment, but rather a huge and frightening risk. Giving our hearts to another is a big risk if we do not know what the person receiving is going to do. The challenge is to love anyway. Just because we have been hurt by another does not mean that we cannot be healed and that we are not being called to love. There is a greater love that is always ours. A greater love than human love that has created us and that we have full and constant access to. It is this love, the love of God in Christ Jesus, that will make us whole again and bring us to the place where we can believe in love once more. St. Paul in His letter to the Romans reminds us, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, ‘For your sake we are being put to death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).

There is a song that plays on Christian radio stations by Danny Gokey called “Love God Love People.” The simplicity of the message is what the songwriter is getting at. We complicate things and the simple truth is that all of the Gospel and all of Scripture really is boiled down to this: namely “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love you neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40). Jesus here is speaking to the Pharisees and scholars of the law who ask him which is the greatest commandment. Jesus says clearly that the two greatest commands are to love.

In the first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul gives us a clear understanding of what love looks like, in order that we know how to live it out in the world. He says, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a ringing gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and exult in the surrender of my body, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no account of wrongs. Love takes no pleasure in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:1-8). He Later says “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13).


Our world desperately needs this message. On the one hand there is so much hatred, so many who are wounded, and so much pride. If only we could begin to live out the basic message of Jesus, we would see so much healing and transformation in the world. On the other hand, so many confuse love for a misled tolerance and an empty niceness, which robs love of its ability to bring real change in peoples’ lives and hearts. This is because we no longer want to say that anyone is broken or wounded or sinful. Real love is the Good Samaritan who comes to the aid of the stranger who is left half-dead on the side of the road. This man was a good neighbor who did not count the cost of reaching into the very real brokenness of the man beaten by robbers and of giving him life saving remedies. The Good Samaritan represents Jesus who comes down to us and raises us up to healing. Jesus loves us so much, and truly, nothing can separate us from His love, yet he loves us too much to leave us where we are to remain in our brokenness and sin. He wants to bring us to experience the fulness of His divine life, which is a life completely transformed by and filled with the love and presence of God.

We need to learn how to receive this love from Christ. It is a love that first enlightens our hearts and leads us through a process of accepting the ways that we are truly wounded. Then the same love draws us to repentance and forgiveness. Then finally it is a love that soothes and heals our wounds, leading us to transformation and wholeness through a deep union of love with God. Along the way we become instruments and witnesses to this same love, which draws others into the same healing process. Love never fails to bring this healing. So let us remember that for the healing of our own hearts and for the healing of the world, the greatest of all ways is love.