The Permanence of Love
I Corinthians 13:8
When I began my exposition of this wonderful chapter, I said that it fell quite naturally into three sections. In the first the apostle declares that without love all other gifts are worthless. In the second he describes the various qualities of love. In the third he asserts the supremacy of love over all other gifts because love is permanent and abiding. It is this third section-in which the apostle sings of love's permanence-that we are now to study together.
The apostle opens the section with a statement even more daring and sweeping than the uncompromising statements contained in the previous verse. In that verse he had said tremendous things about love. 'Love,' he had said, 'beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.' In spite of disappointments, disillusionment, defeats, adverse circumstances, love bears up and loves on. It is a picture of love's glorious and indomitable optimism. In the opening sentence of this section the apostle seems to be continuing the thought of the previous verse, carrying the daring of his claims for love to a point higher still. 'Love,' he says, 'never faileth.'
Dr. T. C. Edwards, indeed, says that the thought in this clause is suggested by that word 'endureth' in the preceding sentence. And, taken by itself, the little phrase would serve for another touch in the picture of the qualities of love. It adds the final and finishing touch of splendor to it-'love never faileth.' The word translated, faileth means literally to 'fall to the ground.' Love never 'falls out'; love never 'falls to the ground.' The picture the word summons up before my mental vision is that of a company of soldiers marching through the heat in some tropic land. And as the weary miles lengthen out and as the heat intensifies, exhausted nature reveals itself, and one after another faints and falls by the way-until at last out of all the company only one is left ...
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