With the growing thirst for Spiritual Gifts among the church at Corinth, Paul points out the greatest gift that they all needed in their lives, something greater than any other gift and without which all other gifts are worthless.
Love Above Everything
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.1 Corinthians 13:1
The gift of tongues was desired by the majority in the Corinthians congregation without realising the purpose for which the Spirit gave them that gift. It is Love that gave meaning to their prayers, whether they spoke in the tongues of men or of angels. But when pride takes over, the sound of people praying in tongues is similar to pagan worship. The resounding of the gong and the clanging of the cymbal were ways in which the Corinthians worshipped Dionysus, the god of wine. Paul makes such grave comparisons to the people speaking in tongues without having Love in their hearts as it is only because of Love that the gifts given by the Spirit will be used for the kingdom of God.
People who prophesy about the mysteries of the world but have no Love in them are giving glory to the evil one. They think that they are furthering the cause for God but they are actually promoting satan’s agenda. People who act humble by giving their wealth to the poor but do not have Love in their hearts are wasting their time in trying to emulate Christ and His words. The Spirit gives the gifts and the Love of Christ activates those gifts for the glory of God the Father.
Christ is Love
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love never fails.
Many people confuse the Love mentioned in this chapter by the worldly love shared by two people. However, if we look at the attributes of the Love that Paul writes about, those are present only in Christ. Even John in his letter calls God as Love.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.1 John 4:16
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
The love of this world might have some of these attributes but only Christ emits all of these qualities always. Everything else eventually fails us but only Christ never fails. If we think that the worldly love can help us reach God or even support us when we are down, we are badly mistaken and are being fooled into thinking that something can replace Christ. It is this Love that gives a purpose to our lives. It is only through Christ that the gifts of the Spirit can be used to connect to the Father. True Love connects us to the Father and not to each other. We love God only because He loved us first and we should love our fellow beings only because of God’s love in us.
Everything Else Will Cease
Paul writes that the gifts of prophesies, tongues and knowledge will all pass away but only Love will remain. If we think about the Old Testament prophets, their prophecies all faded away when Christ came into the world. Similarly our prophesies about God’s kingdom will fade away when Christ returns to take us home. The tongues that are used to speak to God will fade away when we are with Christ in Heaven. And the understanding of the mysteries of this world will be common knowledge when God reveals them to all. In the end only Christ will remain and His Love for us will last forever.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.1 Corinthians 13:13
We have faith that Christ died for our sins and hope that we will see Him again. And of course, we have Love, Christ in us who helps us connect with our Father.
V1-3: Why is Love the most important gift from the Spirit?
V4: What does Love means Biblically, even pagans show kindness, patience etc?
V8: Will the other gifts cease to exist?