1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 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. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
In chapter 12 of I Corinthians we are taught on the subject of spiritual gifts and how they are to work within the body of Christ for the edification of the members of the body, which is the church, the people of God. Then, in chapter 14 we are instructed specifically on the subject of the gift of tongues and how they are to operate within the body of Christ, for there was a problem then with the abuse of that gift, which there still is today, and so that needed to be corrected. So, chapter 13 is written within that context.
In chapter 12 we learn that God has given us all different gifts, and that they don’t all have the same function, but they are all for the common good. And, they are empowered by the Holy Spirit, and it is He who apportions to each one individually as He wills, not as we will. Thus, not one of us should ever feel superior to any other part of the body of Christ, or feel inferior, just because of a particular gift we may have, or that we may not have been given. For, we are all necessary! And, the gifts are from God, not from us.
We also should not treat one another as superior or inferior based on what spiritual gifts we and/or they have been given, either. Yet, we should definitely test the spirits to see whether or not they are of God, based on the teachings of scripture. But, we are not supposed to reject one another’s gifts based on personal prejudice or on human understanding of how the gifts are supposed to operate or which gifts we may think no longer exist.
So, we need to exercise love for one another, both in the exercising of the gifts we have been given, and in the receiving of one another’s gifts, too.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
So, what does that love look like which we are supposed to have one for the other? Well, first of all, it is god-like love, for it prefers what God prefers, which is what is holy, righteous, pure, honest, trustworthy and moral. And this love does no harm to its neighbor, so it will not cheat on, lie to, commit adultery against, slander, lie about, or otherwise abuse or take advantage of other people. But, it will do what is beneficial and for the good of others.
Love is patient, but that does not mean it is tolerant of sin. It is kind, but it is not kind ever to tell people lies just to make them feel better about themselves, especially if, in the process, we are pacifying their sin. For, true kindness thinks about what is best for others, and what will help them, rather than thinking about ourselves and wanting others to like us.
Love is not selfish. It is selfless. So, it doesn’t insist on its own way. I am not saying here we should not stand on the truths of God’s Word, or that we should not stand firm on the gospel of our salvation, for that is insisting on God’s way, not our way. But, that needs to be done with grace. Thus, we should not be rude or mean or hateful when we share God’s truths, either.
Love does not rejoice with wrongdoing, but it rejoices with the truth. Amen! This means we, as followers of Jesus Christ, should take no pleasure in doing what we know is wrong, or in telling lies, or in manipulating others, or in doing what is immoral, or in being entertained by the wrongdoing of others, too, via movies, videos, TV, the internet, and social media, and the like.
We should take no pleasure in a gospel message which brings no death to sin or which does not require a walk of holiness and righteousness in the Spirit of God, either. And, we should take no pleasure in looking for loopholes which we feel give us an “out” to continue in willful sinful practices, too, for that is rejoicing with wrongdoing and with lies.
Also, since this love is divine love, which prefers what God prefers, which is what is holy, righteous, just, pure and moral, etc., it will not bear (tolerate) sinful practices, it will not place its hope in a cheap grace gospel which gives free license to live sinful lifestyles, and it will not believe everything it hears just because it sounds good and it tickles itching ears.
But, it will bear up under unjust suffering, it will believe God and His Word, it will place its hope fully in God and in his teachings and promises, and it will endure all suffering and persecution for the sake of the name of Jesus, and for the sake of his gospel, and for the sake of the salvation of human lives. This is because it considers others’ lives and their eternal destiny and their true needs as more important that one’s own comfort and reputation.
1 Corinthians 13:8-13 ESV
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
One day all these gifts of the Spirit we have been given, though, are all going to pass away when Jesus returns to take us home to be with him. They serve God’s purposes in our lives while we still live on this earth, but when Jesus returns, they will no longer be necessary.
So, the gifts themselves should never be the ultimate end of what we do. They are just instruments. They are tools in God’s hands for our instruction, encouragement, edification, and spiritual growth and maturity in Christ. And, that is where our focus should lie. Our focus should never be on the gifts themselves but on how they are to be used to help the body of Christ to mature in faith, and in hope, and in love one for the other.
When we get our focus on the gifts themselves, and especially if we are feeling prideful because of certain gifts we may have, then we are behaving childishly, wanting attention drawn to ourselves rather than to God, and to his truths, and to how we are to live out his truths in our daily lives. For the gifts are a means to an end, not the end themselves.
The other thing about these gifts is that not one of us has perfect understanding, nor do we exercise these gifts with total perfection, for we are not God. We are still humans. We are mere clay in the Potter’s hands. And, we are just doing our part, which is no better than anyone else’s part.
We are each like a piece to a puzzle which is not complete unless all the parts are connected together, and then they make one complete picture. So, not one of us should ever raise ourselves up over another. For, we are all necessary in order to complete God’s picture, his plan and his purposes for our lives.
So, rather than get our eyes on the gifts themselves, and on our performance of those gifts, we need to keep our focus on the giver of the gifts, and the purpose for why we have been given those gifts, which is for the glory of God and for the greater good of all. For, love trumps over all things.
Blessed Are You
An Original Work / August 29, 2012
Based off Luke 6:20-49 NIV 1984
“Blessed are you; blessed are you
Who are poor for God’s kingdom is yours.
Blessed are you; blessed are you
Who are hungry, you’ll be satisfied.
Blessed are you; blessed are you
Who weep now, for you will laugh with joy.
Blessed are you; blessed are you
when men hate and reject you because of Christ.”
“Rejoice in that; rejoice in that day
And leap for joy; great your reward.
But I tell you; but I tell you
To love those who hate you; do them good.
Pray for those who; pray for those who
Treat you wrong and say kind things of them.
Do to others; do to others as you would
Have them do; have them do to you.”
“If you love those; if you love those
Who love you, what praise is there for you?
Because Christ is; because Christ is kind,
Be merciful, just like He is.
Forgive others; forgive others
Their offense against you; be ye kind.
Hear My words and; hear My words and
Put them into practice, then you’ll be fulfilled.”
Sunday, February 10, 2019