Chapter 13 is a brief aside from Paul’s focus on spiritual gifts to emphasize that gifts alone are empty. Gifts alone are worthless. Gifts alone add nothing to the user or the church. The motivation and the companion of spiritual gifts is and must always be: LOVE.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

There it is, the whole chapter. I used to think the later part, about speaking as a child and putting away childish things, was a bit of a disconnect, but now I see that Paul uses three metaphors at the end to illustrate the importance of spiritual maturity as evidenced in one’s practice of love (the partial passing away, the young growing up, and what is not clear becoming clear.) To Love is not a goal that will ever be complete, we will not grow out of our need to love. The need to use one’s spiritual gifts in heaven won’t be a priority. That makes sense as the church will already be built up, but “Love never ends.”

So pray and ask God to help you see if your life looks kind, free from envy and boasting, arrogance or rudeness. Do you insist on getting your way or put others first? Are you irritable or resentful? What makes you rejoice? Do you bear all things, believe, hope, and endure all things? If not, it’s time to move the focus off of self and onto the one who does these things with us every moment of every day.

John Riley
EFCC Jr High Pastor

Subscribe to the Daily Fill