“Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.”1 Corinthians 12:31 NIV
“If I were to speak with eloquence in earth’s many languages, and in the heavenly tongues of angels, yet I didn’t express myself with love, my words would be reduced to the hollow sound of nothing more than a clanging cymbal. And if I were to have the gift of prophecy with a profound understanding of God’s hidden secrets, and if I possessed unending supernatural knowledge, and if I had the greatest gift of faith that could move mountains, but have never learned to love, then I am nothing. And if I were to be so generous as to give away everything I owned to feed the poor, and to offer my body to be burned as a martyr, without the pure motive of love, I would gain nothing of value. Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. Love never stops loving. It extends beyond the gift of prophecy, which eventually fades away. It is more enduring than tongues, which will one day fall silent. Love remains long after words of knowledge are forgotten. Our present knowledge and our prophecies are but partial, but when love’s perfection arrives, the partial will fade away. When I was a child, I spoke about childish matters, for I saw things like a child and reasoned like a child. But the day came when I matured, and I set aside my childish ways. For now we see but a faint reflection of riddles and mysteries as though reflected in a mirror, but one day we will see face-to-face. My understanding is incomplete now, but one day I will understand everything, just as everything about me has been fully understood. Until then, there are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love—yet love surpasses them all. So above all else, let love be the beautiful prize for which you run.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 TPT
In chapter 12 the apostle Paul outlined the spiritual gifts given to the body of Christ. He used the different physical parts of the body to show how relevant every person is to the body of Christ. We don’t all have the same gifts or positions within the body, but we need every part to function in its role in order to create unity and a well oiled spiritual machine. He pointed out that the seemingly Insignificant parts of the body are indispensable. We need each other to function as a team. None higher than the other. That’s why God is the architect and not us. He decided how He wanted each part of the body to function.
The more excellent way that Paul alluded to at the end of chapter 12, segways into what the most excellent way is, and how it allows the body of Christ to not only serve each other but to do it with pure motives. The love of God gave birth to the church, and it’s love for each other that’s going to set us apart from the world. John 13:35. He begins with the tongue. It doesn’t matter how religious or intelligent we are, if love isn’t front and center we are like noise makers.
We were made from love to love. 1 Corinthians 13 lays out the contrast between what service without love, and selfishness produces. NOTHING!
This love isn’t of human origin, it isn’t the fickle conditional love we humans pride ourselves in. No! It’s God’s love, shed abroad in our hearts, Romans 5:5; 1 John 4:10. His love that truly conquers all. His inexplicable love. Love that gives selflessly and demands nothing in return. Love that lays His life down to lift others up. This love covers all wrong, remembers not the offenses of others. This love doesn’t shine the light on itself but promotes others. Where do we find this love? How can we ascertain or ascend to this level of authentic love? By opening up our hearts and receiving Him. He alone possesses this love. He alone is able to teach us this more excellent way. See 1 Peter 4:8
JESUS. Love personified. When we receive His offer of eternal love, we’re not only changed, we’re eager to give it away. It’s so much we can’t contain it. It’s impossible to keep it to ourselves. It’s a fire only quenched by sharing. He’s put His body together using the formula which was from the beginning. Let us make man in Our image and likeness! It was a decision born from love. That’s why Jesus said that would be what defines His church. They’ll know us by our shared love. John 13:35. Faith has but one law, love. Galatians 5:6. It’s the key that unlocks God’s mysteries to us, but only so far as we’re willing to accept it’s terms of reckless abandon. Forgives, forgets, hopes, believes and trusts. This is the body God masterfully put together in His Son. His body, now known as His church. He didn’t divide us by labeling us Protestants, Baptist, Catholics or whatever labels we give ourselves. No! Love gave birth to a body of believers, with diverse gifts. Gifts that benefits each other.
“But some of our body parts don’t require as much attention. Instead, God has mingled the body parts together, giving greater honor to the “lesser” members who lacked it. He has done this intentionally so that every member would look after the others with mutual concern, and so that there will be no division in the body. In that way, whatever happens to one member happens to all. If one suffers, everyone suffers. If one is honored, everyone rejoices.”
1 Corinthians 12:24-26 TPT
Aspire to attain this more excellent way. It is my one desire, to love with His love. And we can, if we’re willing to let Him love others through us. I did a message on the different characteristics/definition of love. Agape love is the excellent way, it’s everything we’re incapable of without Him. The early church had all things in common because of this love. Acts 2:44; 4:34-35. May we in the twenty first century, discover the joy of living this love.
God gave us His best Gift, the Gift of His love. His name is JESUS....
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit
May 26, 2021