In the Christian life, is faith more important or is love more important?
In answer to this question you may quote “Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”[1 Cor 13:13] and you would be correct, the greatest is love. But the Bible also says “without faith it is impossible to please God“ [Heb 11:6] so, it would seem, we cannot merely dismiss faith over love. This would be foolish, because faith is basic and essential in the Christian ‘faith’.
So what is 1 Corinthian 13:13 meaning? Let’s read a bit more of 1 Corinthians chapter 13 verses 1 to 3 “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not 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 have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” So, love is more important than faith or am I still getting this wrong? What type of faith is 1 Corithians 13 talking about? Is 1 Corinthians 13 talking about some of the gifts of the Spirit? That is, the gift of tongues, the gift of prophecy, the word of knowledge, the gift of faith. I think so. You see, there is the gift of great faith that the Lord implants in people from time to time and, to me, faith that moves mountains is great faith or the gift of faith. Anyway, 1 Corinthians 13:13 isn’t excluding our faith (or our hope) but proclaiming that love is greater.
In Galations 5:6 the Bible says “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Hmmm, I think this is a key verse for me. That is, our faith in the Lord is expressing itself through our love of the Lord. Love, in our Christian life, is first and foremost and overrules all that we do, including our faith. This makes sense when we remember the words of Jesus “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” [John 13: 34-35] and in Mark 12:30-31 Jesus says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
So, our faith comes out of our love? I think so. I believe this is true of our hope as well (but that is another story). So, the love of God fills our hearts, we respond with love back to our Lord and faith (expressing itself through our love) directs our path to those the Lord wants us to love and share the love of the Father.
May the Lord bless you today and always
We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. [1 Thes 1:2-3]
But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.[1 Thes 5:8]
Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? [Jam 2:5]