Summary: Understanding Love
“The Greatest of These – part 2”
February 12, 2012
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 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 do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Three eternal things, faith, hope and love, and the greatest of all the divine attributes is love. I saw a poll the other day that asked this question, “Would you rather live life without love or not live at all.” Two thirds of those interviewed responded that they would rather not live at all - than to live without love. I think God put it in our DNA to need love. We need to be loved and we need to love. If not we are incomplete and unfulfilled. The Beatles sang, “All we need is Love”. I don’t think they had a clue as to what they were singing, but essentially they were correct. All the other fruits of the Spirit flow from love.
Harry Frederick Harlow was an American psychologist best known for his maternal-separation and social isolation experiments on monkeys. In Harlow's classic experiment, two groups of baby monkeys were removed from their mothers. In the first group, a terrycloth mother provided no food, while a wire mother did, in the form of an attached baby bottle containing milk. In the second group, a terrycloth mother provided food; the wire mother did not. It was found that the young monkeys clung to the terrycloth mother whether or not it provided them with food, and that the young monkeys chose the wire surrogate only when it provided food.
Whenever a frightening stimulus was brought into the cage, the monkeys ran to the cloth mother for protection and comfort, no matter which mother provided them with food.
When the monkeys were placed in an unfamiliar room with their cloth surrogate, they clung to it until they felt secure enough to explore. Once they began to explore, they occasionally returned to the cloth mother for comfort. Monkeys placed in an unfamiliar room without their cloth mothers acted very differently. They froze in fear and cried, crouched down, or sucked their thumbs. Some even ran from object to object, crying and screaming, apparently searching for the cloth mother. Monkeys placed in this situation with their wire mothers exhibited the same behavior as the monkeys with no mother.
The study found that monkeys who were raised with either a wire mother or a cloth mother gained weight at the same rate. However, the monkeys that had only a wire mother had trouble digesting the milk and suffered from diarrhea more frequently. Harlow's interpretation of this behavior, which is still widely accepted, was that a lack of contact comfort is psychologically stressful to the monkeys.
It doesn’t take a scientist or a genius to realize that humans need love and contact as well. Latch key kids, children of alcoholic parents, and kids with drug addicts for parents fare no better than the monkeys with wire mesh mothers. We are created with a deep need for love.
From 1986 to 1990, Frank Reed was held hostage in a Lebanon cell. For months at a time, Reed was blindfolded, living in complete darkness or chained to a wall and kept in absolute silence. On one occasion, he was moved to another room, and, although blindfolded, he could sense others in the room. Yet it was three weeks before he dared peek out to discover he was chained next to Terry Anderson and Tom Sutherland.