Not a Wedding!
Father, I am convinced that, even before I reach out to You, You are already reaching out to me. Thank You.
1 CORINTHIANS 12:31-13:13
Consider: "First Corinthians chapters 12 and 14 deal with the gifts of the Spirit. First Corinthians 13 deals with the spirit of the gifts--love" (Jack Hayford). Wise words of guidance on an important subject!
As a pastor's wife, I have the privilege of witnessing numerous marriages. For many couples, today's reading is their reading of choice. Beautiful as the language is, however, Paul would be mystified, as this chapter is not his treatise on love between husband and wife but a call to the Corinthian church to exercise love within the community. It is the "most excellent way" (31b).
In context, therefore, verses 1-3 highlight the futility of spiritual gifts if they are exercised without love. They are worthless, even if noisy, and ultimately achieve nothing. But what does it mean to love? We English speakers have so devalued the word that today it rarely means what the Bible means by it. But in verses 4-7 we have a description of the kind of love that we see demonstrated perfectly in the character of Jesus. It is evident that love is not an abstract emotion but concrete action worked out in our behavior toward others and, for the Corinthians, in the way they exercise their spiritual gifts.
The interpretation of the next few verses (8-13) continues to divide Christians, but we need to remember the Corinthians' claim to have "arrived" spiritually. Paul punctures their claims with the teaching that, because of their impermanence, these gifts are not the final test of spirituality. Between the coming of the Spirit and the return of Christ, the gifts have their place (1 Cor. 1:4-7), but there will be a time when they will not be required. Christ will have returned and the greatest gifts will remain--faith, hope, and love. These are the enduring character traits of a Christian. They mark our life now and, in some way, will mark our lives in the world that is yet to come.
Re-read verses 4-7 and reflect on how you see these attributes in Jesus and how you see them (or don't) in yourself.
Gracious God, I pray that I will always act lovingly toward my brothers and sisters in Christ. Forgive my jealousy and pettiness, and renew a right spirit within me.
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