Paul’s great explanation of the importance and primacy of Love in all aspects of spiritual gifting, must be one of the all time, most famous passages of scripture. But I always thought it was simply a study of the awesome indestructibility of love. But now having read it in the context of the rest of the the book it is in, I see that Paul is brought to these truths about the nature of love because the Corinthians had been arguing about who’s spiritual gifts were the most important. So Paul simply points out, that all spiritual gifts are worthless unless they are embraced and delivered with the love that the Holy Spirit himself invested in them. In the absence of the love of God, all spiritual gifts are meaningless.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 NLT
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless. When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
Suddenly at verse 11, Paul seems to go off on a bit of a tangent, talking about growing out of childish points of view etc… This confused me for a while, until I remembered that Paul’s context was to do with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. As we grow in spiritual maturity we begin to understand the subtleties of love much more clearly and so we see it’s effects on those around us with greater clarity the longer we live in faith. My goal today is to take instruction from this lesson and be encouraged that the longer I continue to grow in faith, the better I will come to understand the gifts the Holy Spirit bestows upon us and the all important power of love which all the spirit’s gifts depend upon.
Esther 8:1-10:3, 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13, Psalms 37:1-11, Proverbs 21:23-24