Monday, February 13, 2012

Without love...

But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way. 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. 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 surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.  1 Corinthians 12:31- 13:3

Approaching Valentine’s Day it is certainly worth our time to visit the beautiful words of the thirteenth chapter of I Corinthians.  It is safe to say that there is nowhere a more beautiful description of true love than in this chapter.  While rich in beauty and deep in meaning these words are also challenging as well.
This passage follows Paul’s stinging confrontation with those who would have claimed superiority by demonstration of certain gifts.  The wonderful spiritual gifts spoken of in I Corinthians 12 pale in comparison to the excellence of AGAPE LOVE.  For the Christian who desires to know the fullness of faith, there is the call to discover the Agape love in all of life and its relationships.

While we may try to focus the attention of others on our outward religion or actions, God continues to turn the spotlight on the heart.  Paul has little respect for those who would elevate themselves over another on the basis of religion or religious action.  He, like Christ, focuses the test of Christianity on the attitude of an individual. 

As a young minister I greatly desired to be able to speak with power and authority.  I wanted to be able to move people to decide for Christ and to follow God.  It was certainly important to me to be respected for my ability to understand and proclaim the scriptures.  It was also vital that I demonstrate powerful and unmoving faith.  Little did I realize that none of these things alone or together were going to make me successful as a minister without the greater gift of love.

The most knowledgeable teacher of the Bible needs love to open the heart of the student.  A great Christian counselor must have love to draw out the pain in one hurting.  One who is gifted in proclamation must have love to communicate with the hearts of men and not the head.  Why is this?  It is because all Christian ministry is about relationship and not just truth and obedience.

Did you notice that unlike the other gifts that are bestowed at random, this gift is made available to all who know Christ and His love?  Paul did not say that any of the other gifts were not valuable.  He did say, however, that they are not effective without love. 

At no time can this passage be read without conviction.  But just because we cannot live it in its entirety does not mean we should disdain it in our lives. We are not capable of love in such a dimension without Christ in the lead in our lives.  Remember, this is the "more excellent way" meaning that where it can be applied we can know benefit and blessing beyond any other response. 

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow.  When you see all of the hearts and roses around you remember that love is not just beautiful, it is powerful.

Scripture to Claim:
Let all that you do be done in love.  1 Corinthians 16:14

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