February 8 I Monday
“Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.” —1 Corinthians 12:31
The classic chapter on “love” in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 13. We often hear that chapter read at weddings. When we look closely at the text in context, we find that Paul was writing about spiritual gifts in the previous chapter, explaining that God gives different gifts to different people for different functions. Even with all the differences, these gifts come from the same Spirit for one purpose as the whole body works together.
Paul concludes 1 Corinthians 12 by asking, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?” The obvious answer to his questions is “No.” Then Paul tells his readers, “Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:29-31). After writing extensively that the spiritual gifts are good, necessary and supernatural, Paul points to the most excellent way. What is it? Love.
Paul writes, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, NKJV). Even if a person gives up his life, Paul makes the points that without love, the things that we say and the things that we do amount to nothing.
Without love, a person can get on the pulpit and preach a message with interesting rhetoric and ideas, but it would just be annoying sounds. Without love, a musician can play beautiful music that is moving, but it would not do anything in people’s lives. Without love, we can be on staff at a church, but it is just a job. Without love, we can go on a mission trip, but we would just be a tourist. Without love, all our spiritual gifts and all our ministries are empty.
This is why 1 Corinthians 13 is such a powerful chapter to follow Paul’s teachings on spiritual gifts. As Christians, we are all given spiritual gifts to serve God in and with the body of Christ. As we take time to examine ourselves, consider whether we serve out of pride, obligation, or expectation or we serve out of the love that God gives us. May we serve God and the body in the most excellent way—with love.
Prayer: Dear God, thank You for showing the most excellent way—love. May everything that I do be done with Your love. Praise You!