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Spiritual Gifts and Love

Chapter 10

The love of Scripture is not emotion merely but an activity of the will: it purposes the good of the one loved, expecting nothing in return (hence, the translation, "charity"). We must always be aware, then, that body function does not depend on spiritual gifts but on love. And while spiritual gifts are important, they are not so important as love.

This is the message of I Corinthians 13. Verses 1-3 mention gifts without love. Verses 4-7 speak of love apart from gifts, which, if you had to choose, is much better. You see, if I really love the people whom God has given me to shepherd, I will teach them, exhort them, help them, encourage them, and so on. The emphasis of the gifts is service, and that stems from love. On the other hand, the most gifted person in the world (the imaginary character of verses 1-3) apart from love accomplishes nothing (verse 1), is nothing (verse 2), and gains nothing (verse 3). But love, whether gifted or not, will reach out to meet any and all the needs of the body. Love is the fulfilling of the law.

This was the basic problem in Corinth -- not a lack of gifts, for they had them all (I Corinthians 1:7). Their problem was a lack of love. Love would have dissolved or even completely avoided every one of their problems, including their abuses of spiritual gifts!

Mark it well: love will not only prevent the misuse and abuse of gifts, but it will also ensure the accomplishing of their intended purpose -- service to others.

So much better, then, not to merely search for a spiritual gift but rather to seek to exercise a gift in love -- to seek to help and to edify. Only that will fulfill the intended purpose of the gifts and meet every need of the body.

Spiritual Gifts