“I show you a still more excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:31).
Without love, spiritual gifts are meaningless.
First Corinthians 13 has been called the hymn of love, a lyrical interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount, and the Beatitudes set to music. It’s a beautiful portion of Scripture that comes as a breath of fresh air in a book dealing with one problem after another.
This chapter has often been isolated from its context, but its real power lies in the balance and correction it gives to the rest of the book. The Corinthians, like all Christians, had been gifted by God at the moment of salvation to benefit the church in a special way. But many were abusing their gifts, seeking prominence for themselves rather than ministering to one another. So in chapter 12 Paul discusses the concept of spiritual gifts, in chapter 14 their proper use, and in chapter 13 the need to minister them in love.
Like many Christians today, the Corinthians forgot that spiritual gifts can operate effectively only in a person who is truly spiritual. They had the gifts of the Spirit but they weren’t displaying the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), the first of which is love.
In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul begins, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” Love must be the motive and driving force behind everything we do!
How has God gifted you for ministry? Are you ministering your gifts in love?
Suggestions for Prayer
Ask God to purify your love and make you a more effective minister of the gifts He has given to you.
For Further Study
Read 1 Corinthians 12.
- Who distributes spiritual gifts?
- Which gifts did Paul mention?
- What is their purpose?