One of the commitments my husband and I made in training our kids was to pray with them before we corrected them. The kids (and Matt and I) were well aware of the difference it made when we brought everything under the authority of God and his love. I remember an incident when I was really upset with my daughter. As I spoke harshly to her about why her behavior was unacceptable, she looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said, “Pray, Mommy, pray!” My sweet little girl understood that when Mommy prayed, anger, disappointment, and judgment disappeared; the motivation in correction became loving her well.
- What causes you to take a step back and ask for God’s love to be your motivation?
READ THE WORD: 1 CORINTHIANS 12:31-13:13 (ESV)
31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
- What is the “more excellent way”? In verses 1-3, how did Paul describe the role of love in the use of our spiritual gifts?
- Based on verses 4-7, what are not characteristics of love? What does love do?
- In verses 8-9, what contrast did Paul make between spiritual gifts and love? If “love never ends,” how does this affect or trump all other gifts?
- In what ways do you use your spiritual gift(s) while seeking to elevate yourself? How do you exercise your gifts in a way that pleases and elevates God?
RESPOND TO GOD
Love is the umbrella over all spiritual gifts because it is everlasting. When Paul talks about love in this passage, he is not speaking about a love we can manufacture. It is a result of an intimate relationship and connection with our Creator, who is love himself. It’s out-of-this-world love. Everything God does flows from his love for us. Just like praying with our kids before correction, connecting with God on a daily basis plugs us in to his love. In your everyday life and routine, stay connected (heart, soul, and mind) with the author and creator of love so that love trumps all. Those you come in contact with will see more of Jesus and less of you because you’ve loved well.
- Lay your spiritual gifts before God. Ask him to infuse you with his love, so that his love is prominent in all you do and say.