By Doug Bell
1 Corinthians 13:
1 ¶ “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 ¶ Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 ¶ Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.”
Last time we spoke about the Gifts of the Spirit. This time as Paul continues on the gifts. (And after having gone into great detail about the importance of the gifts in the church). He now tells us that the gifts, each and every one, is not as important as Love. Why?
I believe the reason is, not everyone will have more than one or two gifts. The gifts are given for the building up of the body of Christ. Especially, in the early days before there was a NT Bible. So the gifts were meant to be for a time. That is, they were only temporary until, as we read in verse 10 “but when the perfect comes the partial will pass away.” There are those who believe the ‘perfect’ here, is in reference to the completion of the Bible. Or, as I said last week, it was meant until the time of the Apostles ended. Whatever it does mean, these gifts are only for a time. And while the gifts may not always be with us, there’s something more important than the gifts that we can all have. And that is love!
As we all probably know by now, the Greek has several words for love. Erotic love, brotherly love, etc. But the greatest of these words is ‘Agape’ Love. This is the Love God the Father showed when He sent Jesus to earth to die for our sins. And while we may never have any of the so-called greater gifts (remember, which are All temporary). Each and every one of us can and should show love, Agape Love! And while it may be inconsistent and fluctuate in our lives: it is what we are to strive for each and every day.
See What Paul says above. He said even if I speak in tongues and have not love, I’m like a noisy gong or a crashing symbol. If I have all prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, if I have all faith enough to remove mountains. Still, without love, I’m nothing. If I give away everything and even give up my body as a martyr for my faith, but I have no love, I gain nothing.
What are the Commandments in the Old Testament but God showing us his character. And the summary of those, the Decalogue or Ten Commandments. So, when we get to the New Testament, we find Jesus giving us an even shorter summary in Matthew 22:
35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
38 This is the great and first commandment.
39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.
And Paul gives us the most condensed summary in Romans 13;
8 ¶ “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law…
10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
If we truly seek to please God, we will seek, not the gifts that will make us stand out, to be seen of men. But, we will seek the Greatest of all the Gifts; the Gift of Agape Love!
13 ¶ “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”