“It may be asked why love is superior even to faith, as Paul teaches in his great Corinthian chapter. There are fundamental reasons: First, love is the result of faith; second, faith is only a means, while love is an end in itself. So it might be said that faith is the servant of love. Third, when faith has been swallowed up in perfect knowledge, love will still abide forever and ever. Love is the ruling principle of heaven; it makes heaven heaven. Fourth, God is love, and that statement cannot truthfully be made of any other quality. God did not create the world for the sake of faith or hope, but for the sake of love.
“Perhaps some one will ask why Paul names, in the text, only the commandments of the second table of the law, which inculcates man’s duty to man. Is not the first table, setting forth our duties to God, even more important? Yes, that is true; but in this thesis Paul, as the context shows, was dealing with men’s relations to one another. Elsewhere he inculcates their duties to God, especially in the earlier part of the Epistle to the Romans. However, the principle announced in the text will also hold regarding man’s duties to God. If the love of God is shed abroad in his heart, he will also obey the commandments of the first table, just as Christ taught when He declared that the whole law and all the prophecies rest upon the two commandments to love God with “all the heart and one’s neighbor as oneself.
“No further exhortation is needed, my Christian friends. The discussion of the text carries its own application, and ought to make its own appeal. I will simply add that what the world needs today more than anything else is the practice of Christian love; love to God first of all; then love to neighbor, love to country, love to humanity. Where ill-will holds sway there will be sorrow, wrangling, jealousy, war. The only panacea is Christian love. Love will right the oppressor’s wrongs; love will solve our social problems; love will remove our labor troubles; love will merge statesmen into accord; love will bring the true federation of the world. Love is organizing; hate is disorganizing. Love is constructive; hate is destructive. Love unites; hate divides. Love solves all problems; hate creates all perplexities.
“My brethren, if we cannot bring the world under the sway of love, we should at least make it the regnant principle in the Christian Church and among Christian people.
From: Keyser, Leander. In The Apostles’ Footsteps: Sermons on the Epistle Lessons for the Church Year. The Lutheran Literary Board: 1920. Lutheran Library edition forthcoming