Why faith? Why not love? Paul said “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) So if love is the greatest virtue of all, why does a right relationship with God come by faith?
Why not good works? Jesus himself said, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) Let it be said that many believe that their good works will take them straight to heaven. Are they right?
No. They are not right. Salvation comes by God’s grace alone through our faith alone. (Ephesians 2:8)
Regarding so called good works, what appears to be good in the eyes of men may not be good at all. Have you never done a ‘good’ thing for someone because you really wanted something from them? What appears good before the world may have a secret motivation that is actually very self centered. Not all ‘good’ works are good!
But love! That’s another story, isn’t it? Aren’t we commanded to love God with everything we’ve got? Yes we are. But think about love. Perhaps you have loved someone who wasn’t very lovely. Maybe you love someone right now who, if truth be known, doesn’t deserve your love. If you have never done this, I bet you know someone who has. So here’s the picture. One very loving person loving a very unloving person in spite of it all. Who looks good here? Love does not necessarily say anything about the object of our love. It says tons about the one loving. So when I say that I love God, I’m really bragging on myself. Love is about who you are not about who HE is.
Now watch this. Paul wrote about Abraham who was far from a perfect man, really a rascal at times. Yet among Old Testament characters, Abraham stands head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to faith. Observe what Paul says about Abraham’s faith.
Romans 4:20-21 – No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.
Love is about the one loving. Faith is about the one you trust. Love can be all about you. Good works too. But faith can never be about you. Faith always looks outside of self to another. Try it. Love an unlovely person. It is a good thing to do and you may be able to do it. Then trust someone who is untrustworthy. I would wager that you can’t, and if perhaps you could, then I wager you will soon be disappointed. Faith more than anything else tells the world what you think of God.
So, how good is God? How powerful? How holy? How faithful? Can he keep his promises? Can he make good on that resurrection thing? Can he birth you from above? Can he bring this planet earth mess at last to his feet? Can he fix it? Can he mend, fashion, guide, bless?
Abraham was no perfect man. Neither am I. Perhaps you aren’t either? What a happy day when a person realizes that the gates of heaven don’t open for our own goodness! They open for the Son of God who said that if we believe in him, trust him, we can go in on his goodness.
John 5:24 – Truly, Truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
What a wonderful Savior he is!