1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV)
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. 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. 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.
Our Verse of the Day is part of a larger portion of Scripture we will examine today. I have combined our verses from the last three days for this study. I think that most of us are familiar with this passage; and I think it is a timely word for us to pause and consider. 1 Corinthians 13, often called the Love Chapter, is Paul’s exhortation about the virtue and preeminence of love in all relationships. Paul asserts that everything we do within our relationships with others should be motivated and guided by love. But I think we should review 1 Corinthians 12, which precedes this discourse, because Paul addresses the spiritual gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit and their exercise and operation within the Church (Body of Christ). I believe it is within this context that we need to understand how love itself should govern how we interact with one another….
1 Corinthians 12:4-13; 27-31 (NIV)
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He distributes them to each one, just as He determines. Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all of its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized with one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
1 Corinthians 12:31 provides the segue into our Verse of the Day … wherein Paul begins a review of spiritual gifts but indicates if love is not the motivation for sharing your spiritual gifts within the Church … if love is absence from its exercise for the common good … then your “working” within the body is useless and without true value. Now with this perspective in mind, we can look deeper at the characteristics of love that Paul provides us:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
Do you see your spiritual gifts or talents … your offices or roles within the Church … your anointed abilities in light of these qualities of love? Are you patient and kind with others in the Church? Are you envious of others’ spiritual gifts? Perhaps, worse, are you boastful or filled with spiritual pride because of the spiritual gifts you were given by the Spirit as He has determined? Paul reminds us that love is not self-seeking; rather, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” (Cf. Philippians 2:3) Love does not dishonor other people or present them in a negative light. Love does not provoke nor does it become easily angered. Love forgives because you and I have been forgiven in Christ Jesus. (Cf. Colossians 3:12-14) Yes, love always seeks the highest good; and so, we should conduct ourselves with this overarching principle: to love one another as we ourselves have been loved by God (Cf. John 13:34-35; 15:12, 17). If we will follow the excellence of love, we will glorify God through every relationship brought into our lives … and His love will be completed through us.
With Valentine’s Day approaching this week, we will probably think about the Love Chapter and its instructions regarding love. Many of us will probably recount the vows we made to our spouses at an altar – or as prompted during a romantic occasion or anniversary celebration. But I encourage you to revisit 1 Corinthians 13 and to consider its application for other relationships … especially those within the Church. As Paul observed, if we do not have sincere love as the motivation and intent of our hearts, then no gifting or anointing … no talent or ability … no role or office … will hold any value in the eyes of God. Love is the reason and purpose behind any and all spiritual gifts because the Lord Jesus gave them for the benefit of the Church and for the glory of God the Father.
As the Apostle John wrote, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (Cf. 1 John 4:8) So, without the “excellence” of love in operation, there is a deep flaw in how we approach our part … our role … in ministering to others within the Body of Christ as well as reaching those who are lost. We have been commissioned to proclaim the Gospel … to live out the Gospel. And its message is truly Good News because we declare the love of God as demonstrated to us through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen….
So Now You Know…
Have a Blessed Day!
This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. ~ 1 John 4:9-12