Have you ever received a spiritual gift? Isn’t it exciting (and scary)? You just want to tell everyone. I remember the first time I got a Word of Knowledge, I was almost convinced that I had finally gone crazy. When I realised what had happened and I got a couple more, I made a huge mistake: I started thinking, ‘wow, look at what I can do!’ I made the gift I had received from God meant for others, into something that I could do of my own volition and for my own purpose. You see, God gives us these gifts, in order to accomplish His purpose and to spread the news and the love of His kingdom (1 Corinthians 12: 7). We’re meant to use them to love on other people, to show them God’s love and to strengthen His kingdom. Paul writes a brilliant passage on using gifts of the Spirit correctly: 1 Corinthians 13.
Before we get into the passage, context from the previous chapter: Paul has been rebuking the church in Corinth for its members becoming unruly with their gifts and declaring some more useful than others. He has noticed that they have stopped using their gifts primarily to help and love each other and that’s where 1 Corinthians 13 comes in. I’m not writing this in the same spirit of rebuke, I find this passage fascinating and it’s one of my favourite pieces in Scripture. So, let’s go!
Verses 1 -3: Paul is writing about everything that we could receive from God and everything we could do and what it all means if we have no love for others or don’t do it out of love. He writes that all our gifts and works mean nothing and achieve nothing without love. If we use our gifts without love or the motivation isn’t to love others, then it is worthless. Clearly Paul is emphasizing that love must be at the forefront of all our uses of gifts of the Spirit.
Verses 4-7: Paul gives a description of love. He talks about what love is and what it looks like. What really stands out for me is the latter end of verse 4: “It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud”. Paul is saying that when we do things out of love, we do them without boasting or being prideful and arrogant of ourselves for our works.
Verses 8-13: The overall message here is that love is permanent. While we may lose some of our gifts, love will always remain. Our incomplete knowledge and childish ways will be replaced by perfection. Though some of our gifts may fall away, there will always be a need for love. What I really get out of this is basically a hidden-but-not-too-subtle message from Paul to those who use their gifts incorrectly: our gifts are only a small, imperfect piece of a perfect plan and we shouldn’t grow too attached to them. But there is also another message here and that is this: maybe we can prophecy, or get Words of Knowledge or we can speak in tongues or maybe we get nothing, but we will always be able to love and that is what is most important.
That was 1 Corinthians 13, a short walk through the passage. Feel free to give feedback and let me know what you think! If you want to recommend a piece of Scripture or you get something out of this that I missed, please let me know! God bless.