THE MOST EXCELLENT GIFT OF LOVE
Text: Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease, where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away…. And now these three remain; faith, hope and love but the greatest is love.
1 Cor. 13:8&13.
St. Paul clearly established in his Epistle to the Galatians that Love is one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), in fact, it is the first aspect he mentioned. The important thing to note about the fruit of the Spirit is that God wants every aspect listed in the fruit to be developed in our hearts. That is, as Christians, it is a must for us to live by the Spirit and bear its fruit, without it our claim of being a Christian becomes questionable.
We are to walk by the Spirit in the pathway of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. In 1 Corinthians chapter twelve Paul as well established the gift of the Spirit: word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith gifts of healing, miracles, prophecy distinguishing between spirits, tongues and interpretation of tongues.
Paul also made it know that no one has all the gifts of the Spirit; to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good (1 Co. 12:7). God does not expect every Christian to have all the gifts but He expect every Christian to bear the fruit, most especially, walking in the pathway of love. He desires the fruit of the Spirit to grow in our hearts.
The gifts are to be used within the fold but Love is to be shown to everyone. Infact, it by loving our fellow man, that we display our Christianity. If we don’t love and have the gifts; the gifts are useless. In Paul’s language, if we speak in tongue and we don’t love, we are not different from sounding brass, if prophesy, understand mysteries, have knowledge and faith without love, we are nothing. Also if we give charity and do not love, it has no profit.
Love is excellent because, it is eternal, it never ceases. All gifts will cease one day (1 Cor. 13:8) it is of a high value than faith and hope.
To Paul, love is patient; loving people are willing to tolerate the shortcomings of others, they know they have faults too. Love is kind; kind people treat others with respect and compassion. Love does not envy; loving people are not jealous of the success of others. Love does not boast and is not proud; Loving people don’t brag. Love is not rude; not self seeking, not easily angered. Keep no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil; loving people do not rejoice seeing people doing wrong or blackmail. Rejoices with the truth, loving people don’t try to lie their way out when faced with the truth but accept responsibility. Love always protect, they don’t betray people rather they always trust, they always hope.
Beloved, showing love to others is the only evidence to show we are followers of Christ .Moreover, when Christ returns or we are called home we will be judged not by the tongues we blew, the miracles we did or our knowledge of mysteries of Christ, but on how we have shown love to God and our neighbours. (Matthew 25:31-46).
Very Revd Adewale Adebiyi Ph.D