You want to know the Spirit’s power? You want your life to count, to make an impact, to bring Christ to others for their sake? Paul is speaking to people who were very confident with the gifts they had, but they were losing sight of the reasons they had been given those gifts. They had lost sight of the primary motivation of love for their gifts. Here’s what you need to know, and seek, if you’re going to avoid their problems, and make an impact for Christ.
Loveless gifts are spectacular show
Tongues? Wow! Prophecy? The same. Who wouldn’t want to have obvious, attention-grabbing gifts? The same goes for a mighty mountain-shifting faith. Well, they are all useless without love, Paul warns us (vv.1-2).
You can bleed for others. But you might just be shedding your blood out of a sense of duty, an iron will, or in the hope of gaining something for yourself. Without love, you’re a fake, and your efforts are a mistake (v.3).
Love looks like this
Impatient Christians. Ruthless Christians. Squabbling Christians. Self-promoting Christians. Self-satisfied Christians. Touchy Christians. Score-settling Christians. Muck-raking Christians. The church can be a poisoned pond, sometimes, can’t it? It is all the more depressing when we remember that the church is the dwelling-place of the Lord, by His Spirit. And yet, is it full of people who are, well, who are just like us at our worst. That is why Paul lists the attributes of love, and in doing so he doesn’t write a pretty poem, but he writes of tough qualities which are the antidote to our poisonous attitudes and habits (vv.4-7). Reflect on them, repent over them, and pray them into your life. Then work out how to live with the new attitudes and habits of a life well-lived, a life of love.
Love lasts, church stuff doesn’t
Love is the life of heaven, lived on earth. Love, like heaven, is permanent. The spectacular gifts will fade, one day (v.8). One day all will be revealed, and there will be no need for tongues and prophecies (vv.9-10). One day we will finally grow up, and put our childish ways behind us, chief among them the desire to be noticed and thought well of (v.11). One day we will see Jesus, and we will think and make much of Him. Afterall, we walk by faith, not by sight, even sight in the precious gifts to be shared in the body of Christ. Be content to believe, content to hope, and serious about love. Those who outlove this world will also outlive it.