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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Anne Robertson

Monday, February 7

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
—1 Corinthians 13:13

I've been hearing this verse at weddings, funerals and in songs all my life, but it wasn't until recently that I realized what a radical statement this is. Church divides from church over issues of faith, and many Christians condemn others because of their particular stripe of faith—or lack thereof. And yet, from its beginning to this stirring conclusion, 1 Corinthians 13 affirms that faith is not the most important thing. Love is greater than faith—even faith so great that it could actually move mountains.

I have to think that a lot of our divisions could be healed if we realized that simply having faith doesn't count for a thing if there's no love in it. Love is the thing that keeps faith from turning into harsh legalism. Love is the thing that keeps hope from being just wishful thinking.

Suppose those who condemned each other in the debates over homosexuality or abortion remembered that love was the greatest thing in God's eyes. Maybe we could have real dialogue, if the debate had love in it. Maybe religious differences would degenerate into religious violence less frequently if we remembered that love was greater than faith. Suppose the Crusaders or Inquisitors had paid attention to this verse?

I recently read some old letters from my deceased father to a favorite aunt back when he was in the army. I knew little of this time in my parents' life. He told of them taking a trip with another couple on a holiday weekend. They arrived at their destination and had a terrible time finding lodging.

Finally one proprietor said, "We don't take coloreds." My father wrote in parentheses, Cliff and Pat are Negro. It was April 1955 and my white parents were vacationing together with a black couple. In times of fear and hatred, their love for their friends took precedence. I am so proud to be their daughter.

Faithful God, may we hope for your salvation with love. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.