You probably know the “love” chapter in 1 Corinthians 13. “Love is patient, love is kind…” It’s a great definition of all that love aspires to be. But I was struck today by something else Paul was getting at.
Love is an essential ingredient to EVERYTHING we do.
1 Corinthians 13 is sandwiched between 2 chapters that speak to the spiritual gifts believers were getting through the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul explains that although these gifts come from the same Spirit, people are each endowed differently with individual gifts and goes on to talk about how the body of Christ (his people that make up his church) each have important and unique roles as distinct parts of one body.
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. ~ 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NLTAre we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages?Of course not! So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts. But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all. ~ 1 Corinthians 12:29-31 NLT
Then after speaking of the importance and the aspects of love, Paul concludes in Chapter 14 saying:
Let love be your highest goal! ~ 1 Corinthians 14:1a NLT
Reading Chapter 13 in this context really drives home this point for me:
Whatever your talents, whatever your gifts, whatever your job or assets or connections or famous deeds are, if they are not done with love for others, they are WORTHLESS.
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.Prophecy and speaking in tongues and special knowledge will become useless. –But love will last forever!…Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1-8, 13