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The Greatest Thing in the World

"I was staying with a party of friends in a country house during my visit to England in 1884. On Sunday evening as we sat around the fire, they asked me to read and expound some portion of Scripture. Being tired after the services of the day, I told them to ask Henry Drummond, who was one of the party. After some urging he drew a small Testament from his hip pocket, opened to the 13th chapter of I Corinthians, and began to speak on the subject of Love.

"It seemed to me that I had never heard anything so beautiful, and I determined not to rest until I brought Henry Drummond to Northfield to deliver that address. Since then I have requested the principals of my schools to have it read before the students every year. The one great need in our our Christian life is love, more love to God and to each other."

Thus wrote D.L. Moody in the introduction to "The Greatest Thing in the World", by Henry Drummond, a 19th-century Scottish Reverend. Below are a few select excerpts:

"PATIENCE: This is the normal attitude of love; love passive, love waiting to begin; not in a hurry; calm; ready to do its work when the summon comes, but meantime wearing the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. Love suffers long; beareth all things; believeth all things; hopeth all things. For love understands, and therefore waits.

"KINDNESS: Love active. Have you ever noticed how much Christ's life was spent in doing kind things--in merely doing kind things? Run over it with that in view, and you will find that He spent a great proportion of His time simply in making people happy, in doing good turns to people. There is one thing greater than happiness in the world, and that is holiness; and it is not in our keeping; but what God has put in our power is the happiness of those about us, and that is largely to be secured by our being kind to them.

"I wonder why it is that we are not all kinder than we are? How much the world needs it! How easily it is done! How instantaneously it acts? How infallibly it is remembered! How superabundantly it pays itself back--for there is no debtor in the world so honorable, so superbly honorable, as love. Love never faileth. Love is happiness, love is life.

"Where love is, God is. He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God. God is love. Therefore love. Without distinction, without calculation, without procrastination, love. Lavish it upon the poor, where it is very easy; especially upon the rich, who often need it most; most of all upon our equals, where it is very difficult and for whom perhaps we do least of all. There is a difference between trying to please, and giving pleasure. Give pleasure. Lose no chance of giving pleasure; for it is the ceaseless and anonymous triumph of a truly loving spirit. 'I shall pass through this world but once. Any good things, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness that I show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.'

"You can put the most untutored person into the highest society, and if they have a reservoir of love in their hearts they will not behave themselves unseemly. They simply cannot do it. Carlisle said of Robert Burns that there was no truer gentleman in Europe than the ploughman-poet. It was because he loved everything--the mouse, and the daisy, and all the things great and small, that God had made. So with this simple passport he could mingle with any society and enter courts and palaces from his little cottage on the banks of the Ayr."


It was John, "the beloved disciple", who defined God as love (I John 4:16). As with Paul, John traveled throughout the ancient world, creating several Christian churches, the best known of which was in Philadelphia, "the city of him who loves his brother".

From the New English Bible (Proverbs 10:12), are these words, "Hate is always picking a quarrel, but love turneth a blind eye to every fault."

And from poet Edwin Markham: "He drew a circle that shut me out--heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But love and I had the wit to win: we drew a circle that took him in."

"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion," said Nelson Mandela, who spent 20 years in prison for protesting the apartheid policies of South Africa. "People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."

- END -

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