What was his greatest achievement?
He held the highest degree available in his time. He had attended the most famous school in his country. He readily quoted from both ancient Hebrew texts and Greek poets and philosophers. Beyond that, he experienced visions from God beyond even his own comprehension. Inspired by God, he became a spiritual guide for millions of others.
Yet, he said, “What if I could prophesy and understand all secrets and all knowledge? And what if I had faith that moved mountains? I would be nothing - unless I loved others” (1 Corinthians 13:2, CEV).
He was fluent in at least three languages that we know of, maybe more. He did most of his writing in a language not his native tongue.
Yet, he said, “What if I could speak all languages of humans and angels? If I did not love others, I would be nothing more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (v. 1)
He walked away from an advancing career and certain success. He left his home and lived the life of a wandering teacher. He often worked odd jobs to pay his bills. He gave up having a wife and children to be free to serve. He endured beating, imprisonment, and shipwreck.
Yet, he said, “What if I gave all away that I owned and let myself be burned alive? I would gain nothing unless I loved others” (v. 3).
The apostle Paul had knowledge and education, but knew love was more important. He spoke Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic, but treasured the language of love above them all. He sacrificed much and gave himself freely. Yet he valued the gift of love above all else. Love was his greatest achievement.
The good news is that it can be ours too. Anybody can learn to love.
It’s a simple language to learn. An adult stoops to offer a kind word to a child, a young man in the checkout line shows patience while an elderly lady struggles to find her checkbook, someone holds the door for others entering the restaurant, a good friend manages to forget all the times we’ve let him down over the years - in such simple, everyday ways, is love communicated.
Among all virtues, love stands head and shoulders above all the rest. “The greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
May we make this our greatest achievement today.