1 Corinthians 13
Isn’t it wonderful that the powerful force behind the Gospel of Jesus Christ is love? The most important element in the building of Christ’s church is very simply love – something we often take for granted.
Love is the essence of God’s nature; the perfection of human character; the ultimate power in the universe. Love is also the church’s most powerful tool. Unfortunately, we sometimes don’t possess, let alone use, this effective instrument.
Christians ask God for all kinds of great gifts but neglect love. Spiritual gifts are wonderful but love is the greatest of all gifts. Churches that seek supernatural experiences more than Christian holiness and growth very often end up divided, confused and carnal.
The church of Corinth had this problem. The Apostle Paul dealt with the question of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 because this was their main preoccupation. He closed the chapter with these words: “And now I will show you the most excellent way.”
Paul then devoted a whole chapter to teaching about love. He made three main points.
Love is essential
Many people desire the gift of preaching or teaching, both of which are good. However, the Bible points out that even if one could speak like an angel, if he had no love, he would be a useless sound. Preaching without love is just making noise. Praying without love is just empty speech. Giving without love is just a ceremony.
Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him (John 21:17). Although Peter had given up everything for Jesus, it was his love that was required more than anything else.
Love is effective
Love is patient and kind; it doesn’t burn with jealousy. Envy is a terrible sin! Love is not boastful or proud. It isn’t rude or self-seeking. It is forgiving. In other words, it doesn’t remember wrongs. Love doesn’t delight in seeing others suffer. It always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres.
If you can replace the word “love” in the phrases above with your name and end up with a truthful statement about yourself, then you are effective as a Christian. You are “successful” in reaching others with the love of God.
Love is eternal
Love never fails. The original Greek says that love will never stop existing – unlike all the other gifts. Why? Because God is love and God is eternal!
Let’s ask God to give us the ability to love. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:1, “Let us follow the way of love.”