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This is the thirtieth thought, Love. And Love is the core of the gospel. It is the mystery of the gospel. C.S. Lewis called it “deep magic.” We know love is the highest and best of all the qualities. God himself is love.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Cor 13:13

We know from Paul’s writing that Love is patient and kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

These are the ways love responds, because love is not a force or a feeling. Love is an action within relationships. Relationships do not happen without love being there. We would have no relationships if God were not the originator and creator of all things. And he created everything with an intent and a choice, he chooses the highest and best for everyone. 

This is partly why Peter ends his progressive list of qualities with love.

But look again at this progressive order. We see by faith that we have everything we need. That sufficiency comes from God. We are his children. When we add virtue, we come to know who he is because he has revealed himself in the scriptures and by the testimony of the Spirit which he gave to confirm the truth. He is the truth and he is trustworthy. We submit our lives to him as Lord and we learn from him, adding knowledge of all things. And then we choose to respond to the world in which he has placed us, we exercise self-control, engaging with the world that is not the way he wants it. We are sent into the world as witnesses of his goodness, making him known in every arena of society, in every sphere of influence. Yes, I said it. Things are not as he wants them to be. Remember Romans 8, where it says that all creation is groaning, and that we ourselves are groaning, and finally the Spirit he sent to dwell in us is groaning. He groans and we groan because things are not as they should be. Look at Hebrews 2:6-9

But there is a place where someone has testified: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? You made them a little lower than the angels;  you crowned them with glory and honor  and put everything under their feet.” In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. But we do see Jesus…

Hebrews 2:6-9

You are crowned with glory and honor. God intends good things for you. He chose you and he still chooses you. He loves you. And he intends for you, if you have entered into this love relationship with your creator and redeemer, to enter into his plan and work to make all things subject to him. 

But how do we do that? Jesus showed us how. Look at the letter the apostle Paul wrote to his friends in the city of Philippi while locked up in a jail.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,  in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledges that Jesus Christ is Lord,  to the glory of God the Father.

Phil 2:1-11

After Adding all these qualities, keep this in mind.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

I Cor 13:1-3

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