THE GREATEST GIFT
Sunday, April 30, 2017
The idea of love is wonderful, but in the daily grind of our lives how can we ever get hold of a genuine love for all humanity? How can we live like another Francis of Assisi or Mother Teresa?
If we are a Christian then we are gifted by God, each in our own unique way as God determines. Paul teaches that in our spiritual gifting, love is not the prerogative of a few but is the possession of all. He founded the church in Corinth where they had complete misconceptions about spiritual gifting and were the most immature, deeply divided church. New Christians were involved in sexual immorality, drunkenness, suing each other and caught up in all kinds of pagan ways. But it was to these people Paul is saying they can experience the love of God as the means by which they engage in ministry.
Spiritual gifting is always for the benefit of others, but if it is not carried out in love, it counts for nothing. If love is not the motive in great acts of benevolence and faith, it amounts to nothing. If love is not the reason for martyrdom, even that will gain nothing. Love is the highest virtue of all, and for one very clear reason—because God is love. To detach God and His works from who He is will simply become an expression of ourselves. The means by which the gifts of the Spirit are offered is love, and if they are going to be fruitful must be exercised in love or they simply amount to a “...resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).
We can mimic and counterfeit spiritual gifts, but we cannot counterfeit love. Love never fails and endures forever, but the transient nature of spiritual gifts will pass away. Paul says where there are prophesies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Paul then adds, “Follow the way of love…” Effective Christian ministry depends on it.
Love is what gives the church its cutting edge. It is what breaks through the most hardened heart and makes us significant in the environment God has placed us. Whatever task God calls us to do is measured by the benefit it brings to others as we exercise it in love. God’s love for us is the greatest gift, which is supremely expressed in the cross of Christ, and our love for Him will be expressed in our love and care for others.