Summary: The message explores the motivation of spiritual gifts.
God’s Heart - Love, Christ’s Purpose - Service
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. I John 4:7-8
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. I John 4:16-17
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way. I Corinthians 12:31
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
All of the wedding ceremonies I have attended and the ones I have officiated have had I Corinthians 13 read at some point by the best man, brides maid, or a close relative. Truth be told, this magnificent chapter on love has nothing to do with the love in a marriage. Or at least that is not what this passage is truly referring to. It is found in the middle of the discussion of gifts because it refers to the overriding motivation of using spiritual gifts.
Why talk about love. It is relatively simple, God’s motivation is love. He sent His Son out of love. We were not paying attention to Him or worshipping Him and He still sent His Son. Scripture says even while we were still sinning Christ died for us.
As a result, His love is our standard, it is the most excellent way as Paul says and without love all ministry is nothing. I John goes so far as to say "God is love". Love is the heart of God. If spiritual gifts are to glorify and imitate Him then it stands to reason our motivation must be love and if it is not, it counts for nothing.
If love is the heart of God and the motivation of our gifts, the purpose of our gifts is service. At their core, all gifts are service gifts because they build up others. Jesus said He came to serve, not be served. His purpose was to love and serve mankind.
When James and John began arguing about who would be first in the kingdom, not only did they misunderstand the Kingdom Jesus would bring, they misunderstood the standard of the Kingdom. Jesus told them and demonstrated that the standard of the Kingdom is service to one another.
Spiritual gifts are used for service to others and must be motivated by love otherwise it doesn’t count and most likely will not accomplish God’s purpose. If we say we are operating in the power of the Holy Spirit and do not demonstrate these two overriding principles then we are lying to ourselves and others. We can also determine others claim to spiritual power or purpose by these same standards.