Love vs.

I read 1 Corinthians 13 today, you know, the "love" chapter: love is patient, love is kind...love never fails. Those are verses we are taught as children, the attributes of love. Although, I believe that the last few verses have a much greater significance than these attributes.

I finally got it today. Beginning in verse 8 (as a reference):

...but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophecy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. . . . For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face, now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known. But now, faith, hope and love, abide these three, but the greatest of these is love.

(Keep in mind that Paul is talking about the gifts of the Spirit and how they should be used in church services. And, he is talking to an unruly church, with many members in a power struggle between each other, and sometimes that power struggle manifests itself by using spiritual things, like "gifts" of prophecy and knowledge.)

In the last line, "the greatest of these is love," love is greater, not necessarily because it is simply better, but because it lasts eternally. 1 John 4:8 says that "God is love." And, God lasts eternally. When the end arrives, we will no longer need hope nor faith, as the fullfillment of both would have happened in love.

So, why does God bestow Spiritual gifts, then? So that we might have faith and hope about what the future will bring. They are only a glimpse of what the true love will reveal. Paul talks about seeing in the mirror only dimly. Have you ever had someone prophecy over you, or have a word of knowledge? Have you or someone you know been super naturally healed? What was it like? Like the fog lifted, right? Or maybe you recieved a sense of peace or joy. That's what the end will be like all the time. We can only see it as a poor reflection now, but will see it with extreme clarity in the future. Spiritual gifts serve the greater purpose of love and give a glimpse into our future with the Lord.

In the end, there will be no need for prophecy, because we will be in God's presence and He will communicate directly with His people. We will no longer need words of knowledge because everything will be revealed. We will no longer need physical healings because everything will be perfect. We will abide in Love.

This is why this chapter is interjected between two chapters about Spiritual gifts. As Paul writes at the beginning of the chapter, if we give everything to the poor, if we have tongues or prophecy or knowledge, and do not practice them in Love, i.e., practice them for the gifts' sake and not for God's sake, it doesn't matter. Love, Jesus Christ, our Lord, will remain, and all of our gifts from Him also point to Him, until we can fully abide, i.e., live with, Him.


Tina D. said...

wow, that's a lot of commas!

penman@truegosp.org said...

Love is certainly the most important thing. The Bible teaches us how to love and what love is, both by instruction and example. As numerous scriptures point out, love is equated with keeping the commandments of God.

As I point out in my book. God's commandments teach us HOW to love. The first four of the Ten Commandments teach us how to love God and the last six teach us how to love our neighbor. The life and the example of Jesus Christ also teach us how to love, as does the whole Bible.