Summary: Christian love is the most important of all the gifts from God. We are called to pursue love, without which all of our spiritual gifts amount to nothing.
This is our second “Sunday Seconds” service. In tonight’s message I would like to address the question, “Are supernatural sign gifts for today?” Usually, the supernatural sign gifts refer to tongues, interpretation, prophecy, healing, and miracles.
Let’s read 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13:
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. (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13)
First Corinthians 12 – 14 is Paul’s discussion about spiritual gifts. Even though chapter 13 is often called “the love chapter,” it is not in fact a description of marital love. Instead, it is description of spiritual gifts that are motivated by love.
The Corinthians were interested in personal fulfillment. They were not interested in building up their brothers and sisters in Christ. In this chapter, Paul gave them a new orientation toward life that focused on putting other people first. He taught them to love, knowing that if they loved one another rightly, they would use their spiritual gifts properly.
If there is any similarity between ancient Corinth and our modern-day church, it lies in our failure to love one another well. In fact, by many accounts we are often worse than the Corinthians. They had at least managed to stay united, in spite of the many abuses that were taking place in their fellowship. Today, most Christians are so self-centered that if we don’t get our way, we simply go to the church down the street. We do not place others first, and we certainly do not commit ourselves to loving others in the way that Paul teaches.
So, in our lesson today, we learn that Christian love is the most important of all the gifts from God. We are called to pursue love, without which all of our spiritual gifts amount to nothing.
I. The Preeminence of Love (12:31)
First, notice the preeminence of love.
Paul introduced chapter 13 with 1 Corinthians 12:31, where he said: “But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.”
Paul encouraged the Corinthians to earnestly desire the higher gifts. He acknowledged that some gifts were more visible than others. He also recognized that the Corinthians were abusing spiritual gifts by being enamored with some of them and looking down at Christians who did not possess them.
Paul was about to show the Corinthians a still more excellent way to live as a Christian in the body of Christ.
It would be difficult to overemphasize Paul’s commitment to love among Christians. Love was to guide believers in the way in which they worship God. Love was to guide husbands and wives in their relationship to each other. Love was to guide Christians in the way they participate in the Lord’s Supper. Love was to guide believers in restricting their freedom for the sake of others.
For Paul, love was the greatest of all gifts.
II. The Necessity of Love (13:1-3)
Second, let’s look at the necessity of love.
As we move into chapter 13, it is important to note again that Paul was talking about the way in which Christians exercise their spiritual gifts. Chapter 13 is not about sentimental love. It is about the necessity of love in the exercise of our spiritual gifts.