November 26 Daily Devotional

Love, the Greatest Gift

Charles and Norma Ellis

Bible Reading:

1 Corinthians 13:

1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.


The word love has been largely stripped of its meaning. It has become synonymous with concepts as diverse as sex or benevolence or lack of hostility. So it is good to read 1 Corinthians 13 often and to sharpen our understanding of love in its most profound sense. Living, as we do, in an atmosphere of such weakened concepts, it is indeed necessary actually to reconstruct our own understanding of the meaning of love as well as of other words. Let us delve into its wealth as Scripture uses it to describe God's relationship toward His people and the relationship He would have us sustain toward Him and toward one another.

The contemporary Christian public has been made familiar with the three words for love available to the Greeks: phileo, eros and agape, Phileo means to have a benevolent feeling, a feeling of goodwill. We meet it in the word Philadelphia, which means 'brotherly love.' Eros refers to sexual love and we recognize it in our word erotic. Agape is the deeper, stronger word which Christian writers found best suitable to take over and adapt to their own use.

Agape is the word which is used most commonly in the New Testament. It refers to God's love for His people, their love for Him, and their love for one another. From its usage we understand how our God regards us and how He enables us to regard one another.

Masumi Toyotome speaks of three kinds of love from a different perspective.* First there is the "if kind of love, which is given provided the recipient measures up to certain standards. Then there is the "because" kind of love, which is given as a result of what its object has done or looks like, or how its object makes the lover feel. And third, there is the "in spite of" love! This is the love which issues from a heart because of the nature of that heart, the love that is poured out, not if it is deserved, or because it is deserved. This is the love which the one who knows he is an unlovely sinner longs for!

This is the love of God the Father! Let us pray that He will in His grace channel this love through us to our spouse and to our children and to all the world around! This is the love of 1 Corinthians 13.

* Toyotome, Masumi. Three Kinds of Love. Inter-Varsity Press, 1970.

We are happy to have obtained permission to post as our current daily devotional Heirs Together of Life: Daily Bible Reading for Husbands and Wives, published by The Banner of Truth Trust. Don't be misled by the subtitle. As the book's "Preface" indicates (see below), although Heirs Together of Life is "especially prepared for couples,"the authors declare, "Since the basis for this guide is God's Word, we believe it would have value for any reader."

Charles and Norma Ellis are husband and wife and the authors not only of Heirs Together of Life (which was first published in 1980 and continues in print today), but also of Wells of Salvation (first published in 1985, and likewise still in print today). The latter contains a series of short studies covering the entire book of Isaiah, while the former contains a series of almost 200 short studies covering the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Both books by the Ellises can be ordered from the publisher, The Banner of Truth Trust. We trust that these daily Bible readings, posted daily on our site, will be helpful to you in your Christian walk before God. Whether married or not, all of us are members of families and members of the family of God.

Charles Ellis was educated at Wheaton College and Westminster Theological Seminary. Upon graduation from Westminster (where he earned not only a Th.B. but also a Th.M.), he was ordained to the ministry in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and pastored a number of OPC churches, including Immanuel OPC in West Collingswood, New Jersey; First OPC in Cincinnati, Ohio; Covenant OPC in East Orange, New Jersey; Knox OPC in Silver Spring, Maryland; and Lakeview OPC in Rockport, Maine. Less biographical information is available about his wife, but it is known that they served as parents of seven children. After retiring from the ministry, Charles Ellis went to be with the Lord in 2003, but he and his wife left us with a beautiful legacy in the two books they have given to the world, and we are proud to share the daily Bible readings from Heirs Together of Life here with you.



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