“But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.”
1st Corinthians 12:31
The church at Corinth is often called Paul’s “problem church!” The believers there struggled with divisions, religious pride and misunderstanding spiritual gifts. In chapter 12 of what we know as 1st Corinthians the apostle dealt with the matter of spiritual gifts the Lord has given to each of His children, as well as the gifted men He has given to His churches. He ends the discussion by pointing to a more excellent way, the way of God’s love.
One day a child asked her mother, “Why does the sun shine?” The mom’s answer was short and simple, but very profound, “The sun does what it does, because the sun is what it is!” The sun shines (gives light), because the sun is light to all! Likewise, God does what He does, because He is Who He is! God loves, because God is love (1st John 4:7).
In the first three verses of chapter thirteen Paul explains why God’s love is the more excellent way to live and to minister to others. 1) Love adds sincerity to words. “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” People, especially young people are quick to discern insincerity in words. When we speak to others in God’s love we have something real to say. 2) Love adds strength to actions. “If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” I am always reminded of the layman’s definition of nothing=A zero with the rim knocked off! That’s NOTHING, and that is what our actions amount to in the absence of God’s love. Actions taken in the love of God give us something real to do! 3) Love adds substance to giving. “And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” Only when we give in the love of God do we have something real to give!
The early church was not wealthy with this world’s goods and was largely opposed, but it had two formidable weapons expressed by the Greek words Kerygma and Koinoinia! Kerygma speaks to the word of God, and Koinoinia speaks to the loving fellowship between Believers. Understand that the ancient world was filled with religions, philosophies and false deities, but the missing element for which people were starving was to know that they were loved! The world has not changed. People are still searching for something real, and it is only found in the person of Jesus Christ and in and through those who are His!