Gilland: Pondering the greatest gift

We’ve had a flurry of birthdays recently, and what joyous times those are. Having four children, then adding four spouses, then the grands, gives us plenty of opportunities to celebrate these gifts from God.

That got me thinking: What is the greatest gift that we can give? After pondering on that for a moment, the answer came swift and clear. It is not a tie or an article of clothing, and not even a large appliance, automobile, or a house.

According to the Bible, there are three golden possessions for our lives, and they are “faith, hope and love” (see 1 Corinthians 13:13). And of those three, one is highlighted as the greatest, and that is love.

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We are told elsewhere in the Bible that the world will know and recognize believers in Jesus by our love. This love manifests itself in a number of ways.

First, we are to love God with all that is in us. Then, we should love our neighbors “as we love ourselves.” That one used to strike me as odd, but it is true nonetheless. After all, we DO love ourselves more than we are ready to admit!

Obviously, we love our family, and our friends. But a love that is to be lived in the lives of one who is a believer goes even beyond those precious people.

The love of Jesus in our hearts is intended to spill out—upon the world around us. Only God can cause that to happen. But that is exactly what He wants for our lives, and it was with that motive that, moments before ascending into heaven, Jesus told His followers to be His witnesses, and to take His message to the world.

Paul taught about gifts and love in a section of his first letter to the Corinthians. Starting in chapter 12, and again in chapter 14, we can read about the amazing gifts that God has given us. Take me up on this, and browse through these chapters if you haven’t done so lately.

But square in the middle of those verses—in Chapter 13, Paul talks about the greatest gift, the gift of love. 1 Cor. 13 is one of the most beloved and wonderful chapters in the Bible. It is itself a great gift to us all.

Again, as I was thinking through all of this, I kind of laughed when I saw how chapter 12 and chapter 14 were on both sides of Paul’s love chapter. I thought of a sandwich…a delicious mahi sandwich from Ballyhoo Grill! (I do think they have the tastiest sandwich I have ever eaten.)

But as I continued to think of this example, it hit me. I have never bought a sandwich for the bread that envelopes it. I want the sandwich for the goodness that is within.

That funny little picture helped me love and appreciate the “goodness” of the meat of chapter 13, and how God loved—He so loved the world that He gave His only son.

Now that, my friend, is real love.

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