Undoubtedly the most beautiful prose ever written about love is found in the thirteenth chapter of I Corinthians. This chapter reveals the majesty, power, and influence of love; it compares love with two other virtues: faith and hope. The chapter concludes that though faith and hope are important, still “the greatest of all is love.”
Love is the mark of the Christian. Imagine the scene: the disciples are solemn and puzzled as they listen to Jesus’ final instructions before His arrest, trial and death. For more than three years these twelve men have been with Him, and still they are not ready for all that is going to happen. He speaks words of comfort and encouragement to them. One thing He says to these twelve men is: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35
Jesus did not say that the world would know them as disciples because of their eloquent sermons, Bible knowledge or church activities. Instead, they would be known by their love for one another. The true test was in their personal relationships.
Down through the centuries, Christians have tried to identify themselves in many unusual ways. They have worn special clothing and jewelry. Some have even distinguished themselves by certain kinds of haircuts. Perhaps God has led some Christians to do such things. But the one identifying mark of the Christian which fits every generation is the one Jesus singled out: genuine love.
Love is even mentioned as the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” These nine qualities are evidences which show up in a life controlled by the Holy Spirit. Some Bible scholars suggest that the fruit of the Spirit is love and the other eight qualities are by-products of this love. Regardless, the emphasis is placed on love.
Matthew 22:34-40 relates an experience in Jesus’ ministry in which He presented a new perspective of the Ten Commandments. A brilliant Jewish lawyer had tried to put Jesus on the spot by asking Him this profound question: “Which is the greatest commandment in the law?” Jesus silenced this young attorney by saying in verses 37-40,
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.“
Jesus answered the question by summarizing the Ten Commandments in two commandments. Then He added a “P.S.” to His answer: “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” In other words obedience to these two is the same as obedience to all ten!