The famous love chapter is sandwiched between two chapters on the spiritual gifts. Paul finished speaking about one list of gifts and tells the church at Corinth that they should earnestly desire them (1 Corinthians 12:31). He then changes tack and starts a dialogue on love, which should be the motivation behind exercising all these gifts. It should also be the way of life that we choose to live.
Paul refers to our love walk as ‘the most excellent way’ (1 Corinthians 12:31, NIV) or the ‘way of life that is best of all’ (NLT). He is not saying that spiritual gifts are not important, because they certainly are. What he is saying, though, is that love is the greatest gift or the one of the most supreme importance. Therefore, living a life of love should be our priority or highest goal, and not our desire for spiritual gifts.
Hand in hand they both work marvellously together, whereas the exercise of gifts, without love, is seriously lacking. None of us want to be a ‘noisy gong’ or ‘clanging cymbal’ (1 Corinthians 13:1). Paul also adds that love is eternal, whereas one day the gifts will cease because they will no longer be needed (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).
The Apostle Paul then proceeds to describe exactly what love looks like and it can be a daunting list. ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres’ (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
The word ‘love’ is both a noun and a verb, and it needs to be outworked practically. Some people read these verses by substituting the word ‘God’ for the word ‘love.’ For instance, they read ‘God is patient and kind. God is not jealous or boastful or proud.’ This is appropriate because these characteristics are true of God, but more importantly, because God is love (1 John 4:8). He not only acts in a loving way, but love describes who He is. God is love.
Alternatively, we can substitute our names for the word ‘love’ and there the challenge begins. For instance, are we always patient and kind or exhibiting all the other characteristics that are mentioned? I tried this the other day, but, within a few hours, I fell terribly short. The doctor was running almost an hour late and I was struggling to sit patiently in the waiting room. I was beginning to get irritated, and even worse, justifying my irritation. There was not a whole lot of love seeping out of my pores at that moment. How is your love walk going?
Perhaps you would like to pray along the following lines.
Prayer: God, You are love and always act in ways that are loving. I want to do the same. Please help me. I am especially struggling with being … right now (fill in the blank). Amen.
Please feel free to use this devotional to send on to your friends or share with your church fellowship. Provided full acknowledgement is made to Seeds of the Kingdom as the source, you are also welcome to use it in a non-commercial way and reproduce it in magazines or other Christian websites. The copyright for any commercial use of the material remains with Ellel Ministries International.