Ok, you fill in the blank. How would you define “Love”? It’s a lot of things isn’t it?! And what is this chapter doing in the middle of spiritual gifts? I believe it is because Paul is explaining the realm in which spiritual gifts are to operate – Through Love – “And now I will show you the most excellent way.” (12:31b) This chapter is considered by many Paul’s best literary writings. John MacArthur writes, “…it has been called the hymn of love, a lyrical interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes set to music. Studying it is somewhat like taking apart a flower; part of the beauty is lost when the components are separated. When each part is understood more clearly, the whole can become even more beautiful.” I’ll break it down into three sections:
First, Without Love We’re Nothing (1-3): There was a selfishness of these believers to want the “showy” gift of tongues. Yet right here Paul points implies so what if you speak in tongues, if it’s not done in love, it’s nothing. Or speaking for God or giving to the poor = nothing without love!
Secondly, Paul describes What Love Is and Is Not (4-7): “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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.” Ok, maybe we should stop here and pray about this list. Living out these would keep us challenged for the rest of our lives!
Paul’s final point is that Love Never Fails (8-13): Spiritual gifts are temporary and eventually will pass, BUT LOVE will never pass away! We can also know a lot right now, but not like we’re gonna’ fully know when we get to be with Jesus!
*Take a survey of you activities for today – How many of these were truly motivated by love? How many by selfishly looking out for “me”?
*Of the “is” and “is not” descriptions of love, which one do you need God to help you with today?
*Love always hopes, always perseveres. When are you most vulnerable to giving up? What are you facing right now that need God’s strength for? Why not stop right now and ask Him – He wants to mightily work in you and thru you!
*Who do you know who needs to be shown the Love of Jesus today? Go for it!