”Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” 1 Corinthians 13:4
The infamous ‘love chapter’ comes in the context of Paul talking about gifts in the local church. The chapter before and after are about spiritual gifts and leadership in the church.
At the end of 1 Corinthians 12 Paul says that God has placed in the Body of Christ 8 different gifts of the Spirit, expressed through people, exactly how He wanted them. They seem to have a rank order.
- Gifts of Healing
- Gifts of Helping
- Gifts of Guidance
- Speaking in other languages
He is making the point that it is God who has gifted and placed people and that we are all a part of the Body. He then makes a pivotal statement.
“Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12:31
These 8 gifts are not the only ones in the church. We have others listed in Romans 12, for instance, but they seem to be considered ‘the greater gifts’ and Paul says for us to desire them. Even though they are greater, he goes on to show the church what was more important… ‘the most excellent way.’
And it’s all about love.
The preamble to the most famous paragraph about love (verses 4-8) is all about perspective. If we have the greatest of gifts but do not have love, we are a clanging symbol. We are nothing. We gain nothing. Gifts without love are empty. Love is the most excellent way.
As I use my leadership gift in the local church, I need this reminder today. When loving, I am patient and kind. I do not envy or boast or embrace pride. I do not dishonor other people or am self-seeking. I am not easily angered… it takes a while to get there. I do not keep a record of wrongs. I do not delight in evil but rejoice with the truth. When loving, I protect, trust and hope in people. When empowered by love, I persevere.
Love never fails.
Thank you, Father, for the perfect example of love that I see in Jesus. He spoke love, taught love and demonstrated love through the cross. Make me more like Him today, I pray. I live for You.