Paul began this teaching: “Fellow Christians, I want you to know about the gifts of the Spirit” (1 Cor 12:1). He concludes: “But try to have the better gifts. And now I’ll show you the best way of all (1 Cor 12:31 AAT).
Cultivating love is the best way to function in the gifts of the Spirit.
Without love, manifestation the gifts of the Spirit counts for nothing and good works count for nothing. What counts is anything we do that is motivated by God’s love.
If I speak tongues of men and angels but don’t have any love, I’ve become a loud gong or a clashing cymbal. Even if I have the gift of prophesy and know every kind of hidden truth and have every kind of knowledge, even if I have all the faith to move mountains but don’t have any love, I’m nothing. Even if I give away all I have to feed the hungry and give up my body but only to boast and don’t have any love, it doesn’t help me. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Love is the stuff of good character.
Love motivates us to do what we should do and not do what we shouldn’t.
Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn’t jealous. It doesn’t brag or get conceited. It isn’t arrogant or rude. It isn’t selfish. It doesn’t get angry. It doesn’t plan to hurt anyone. It doesn’t delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It bears everything, believes everything, hopes for everything, endures everything. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Practicing that love makes for shalom in the community of our king.
Now, we look at the eternity of love. Love never ends.
The gifts of the Spirit will end because we will no longer need them when that which is perfect comes.
Love never ends. If there are prophecies, they will come to an end; or tongues, they will stop; or knowledge, it will vanish. We learn only a part of anything and prophesy only a part. But when that which is perfect comes, what is only a part will vanish. When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, think like a child, reasoned like a child. Now that I’m a man, I’ve given up the ways of a child. Now we see by a mirror and are puzzled, but then we’ll see face to face. Now I learn only a part of anything, but then I’ll know as He has known me. 1 Corinthians 13:8-12
Paul compares ways of a child with the way of maturity in Christ in view of the major change from now to then by picturing how we see in a mirror versus face to face. He reinforces this concept with; “Now I learn only a part of anything, but then I’ll know as He has known me.” Knowing face to face is the knowing of life in the world to come (Rev 21 and 22).
When that which is perfect has come, faith, hope and love will go on eternally.
And now these three, faith, hope, and love, go on, but the most important of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
From all that has been urged in the previous verses it follows that these three graces—faith, hope, love—remain imperishable and immortal.
There need be no difficulty in understanding that “faith,” in the sense of trust in Christ as our Saviour, may continue in the heavenly state; indeed, when we see Him face to face, and see actually how great a salvation He hath obtained for us, that faith may’ be expected to glow with a new and increasing fervour Hope, too, need never cease if that new life is to be progressive. If hope lives by feeding on the present as the promise of the future, surely it will have a more abundant sustenance in that life than in this. Yet love stands supreme; indeed, both faith and hope would perish without her. (See Matthew 26:35; Galatians 5:6.) Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers
All Scripture quoted on this page is from AAT An American Translation