1 CORINTHIANS 13
Because the Body of Christ is so united, any impact on a single individual member will have a knock-on effect, for good or for ill, on every individual member and on the entire body. The point of everyone working at their specialist skills and giftings is to benefit the whole body and each individual member of it. So we need great wisdom and heavenly advice on how to exercise these powerful gifts that the Holy Spirit has placed within us.
Imagine what would happen if we took the radioactive core of a nuclear power station and placed it in the middle of the local supermarket or chose to launch some of it as the warhead of a long-range missile! The very material that had previous done so much good would now be doing incredible harm. The main difference between nuclear power and nuclear warfare is how you choose to deploy this high-energy material. By analogy, we need to take the same degree of care over how we deploy the power of God – our methods and motives. Therefore, Paul writes 1 Corinthians 13 to explain the motivation and the methodology of the use of these gifts and ministries. There is really only one way to do it: the way of love! The final verse of Chapter 12 is really saying: ‘This is the only way to deploy the gifts and ministries of the Spirit – and it is a most excellent way’.
The purpose of any spiritual gift is to do good to others, to love the Body of Christ and to love God himself. If you want to know a really good definition of love… sadly there isn’t one! So Paul spends verses 4 – 8 of Chapter 13 giving a series of illustrations and examples, moving towards the conclusion that love is like God and that God is love. And in the end, that is all there will be – God and his love. The gifts will have been discarded near the gates of heaven, and the faith and hope will all have been fulfilled. Their purpose will have been accomplished, because then we will see HIM face to face, with no room for doubt and no place to hide! From then on, we will have all knowledge and an intimacy with the Lord that we cannot even imagine today.
Love is the motivation, the reason, and the goal of all that we do. God is love.