The Greatest Thing
I have been around a number of men and women close to death. Not one of them asked how their stocks were doing, or if they were going to die with the most toys. Before my Dad died he wanted to speak separately to my mother, sister and me. He wanted to tell each one of us that he loved us and he loved God.
Henry Drummond once gave a sermon about love titled "The Greatest Thing In the World". D. L. Moody stated of this sermon "It seemed to me that I had never heard anything so beautiful." Moody had Drummond come from Scotland to Chicago to deliver this sermon to all the schools that Moody was associated with. Moody then requested the principals of his schools to have it read to the students every year. Moody thought so highly of this sermon that he thought it should be delivered once a month in every Christian Church in the world.
This sermon was later turned into a book and is considered a Christian Classic. Drummond describes the greatest thing in the world as being Love and that God is Love. Drummond describes love as active and breaks down ICorinthians 13, like someone who has lived a live of love.
I Corinthians 13:3 And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Drummond describes how we can do many things that appear good, know all prophecy, have faith to remove mountains, bestow all our gifts to the poor, give our bodies to martyrdom, but this is worthless unless we have love.
The type of love later described in this book is called Agape love. There are two types of love, agape and phileo. "The essence or basic nature of the two kinds of love is that agape is self-sacrificing love that benefits someone other than the person expressing the love, and phileo is self-satisfying love that benefits the person expressing the love. Agape does not consider the worthiness or unworthiness of the one it is benefiting, while phileo considers both. Agape cannot be expressed with words alone, it must contain actions.
John 21:15 Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
Harold Chadwick, who has helped compile Henry Drummonds book into modern english said that it was even hard for the disciples to grasp agape love. He stated that three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. The first two times he used the verb agapao. By using the verb He was undoubtedly asking Peter if he loved Him in a willful, dynamic, and self-sacrificing way. But Peter replied by using the word phileo, meaning that he had strong affection for the Lord--loved Him in a social, moralway. The last time Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, He used the same word that Peter had used, phileo. In so doing, He dropped His love requirement down to the best that Peter could do at that stage of his spiritual development. In John 21 verse 18, Jesus told Peter what true love for Christ (agape) would cost him once he learned to walk in it. --"Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands,and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish. This He spoke, signifying by what death Peter would glorify God. "
Chadwick goes on to describe agape love in greater detail. He also states: "It is a blemish upon the Body of Christ that the divorce rate within the Church is as high as it is within the world. The problem lies in that the vast majority of Christian couples marry for phileo love and not for agape love. Like those in the world, they marry because they are emotionally and physically attracted to the other person, and because they believe that the other person will make them happy-- in other words, they marry for self gratification. Rarely does a Christian couple marry for agape, because they believe they can make the other person happy. Just as rarely is there sufficient agape in a phileo marriage to make it the kind of Christian marriage that God intends it to be. Yet agape is the solution to all the difficulties in Christian marriages, the solution to the problem of the divorce rate within the church." The greatest thing is agape love.