TEXT: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Big Idea: “Gifts of the Spirit will be effective only when motivated by and function in the love of Christ. ”
1. Necessity of Love (v. 1-3)
The “more excellent way” (12:31) Paul points to is to function with the love Christ as our chief motive. Paul is saying, “I can be a gifted speaker and impress you with my eloquence, or I could speak in tongues, in a heavenly language, which would really impress you Corinthians since that’s how you gauge spiritual maturity. But without the love of Christ, without the motive of genuine love and service to those around me, all of my eloquence is worthless. If my heart lacks love, then my mouth is just making noise.”
Love is the foundation, the central motivation behind every spiritual gift. In order for those gifts to be effective and fruitful, they must be done in love. That means we should never seek God’s power to flow through us without first seeking God’s love reflected in us. (See also Galatians 5:22-24)
2. Nature of Love (v. 4-7)
The nature of divine love is the Cross (1 John 4:10-11). So what does that kind of love look like in practical application to the spiritual gifts?
-When functioning in a spiritual gift, (v. 4) I must be patient and kind – not demanding my own timetable.
-I must not be dissatisfied with the gift or call God has given me by envying the gifts of others. At the same time, I must not boast in some spiritual gift, thinking my gift is better than that of others.
-I won’t be arrogant or rude, using my gift as an excuse to demean others or be self-centered. Whatever I have to offer, whether it is a word of prophecy or an act of service, I will not push that onto others, but I will humbly, gently offer it.
-(v. 5) I should not insist on having my own way. Love is outward facing and others-minded, noticing opportunities to encourage the faith of others. Not insisting on having my own way also means that I won’t withhold my gift from others out of my own skepticism or neglect. Christ-like love will break down my own pride and fear of man, and I will be empowered to serve others with my gift.
-I will not be irritable or resentful. Irritation comes when we think less of others. Resentment comes when we believe others think less of us. But love reminds us it’s not about us. It’s about honoring Christ and serving others.
-(v. 6) I won’t rejoice at wrongdoing. Instead, I will rejoice in the truth. That means I will value what God values, I will celebrate what He celebrates. I will seek to walk in truth and to rejoice in the truth of the gospel.
3. Never-ending Love (v. 8-13)
There will come a day when spiritual gifts pass away – when we see Jesus face-to-face (v. 12). When Jesus comes, spiritual gifts will end because we won’t have any lack or need for ministry to one another. But even then, love will never pass away. It is meant to be our driving motivation here in this life and in the life to come.
When we are motivated by and function in the selfless, sacrificial love of Christ, the gifts of the Spirit will be fruitful, our discipleship will be more effective, our relationships will deepen, our unity will be stronger, our church will be more healthy, and God will use us to reach those who are hurting and in need with His love and His grace.