Let us read this wonderful chapter.  “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love” (NASB).

1 Corinthians 12 discusses how each believer has at least one spiritual gift that is to be used for the glory of God.  The first three verses of chapter 13 describe how our spiritual gifts mean nothing if their use is not accompanied by love.  The Greek word for love in this chapter is ‘agape’, or self-sacrificing love.  Verses 4-7 teach us about agape love, which should be seen as we use our God-given spiritual gifts.  How often we fall short of these lofty characteristics!  It is only with God’s help that we can choose to love others no matter how unlovely they may behave toward us.  This is the type of love that God poured out to all of us rebellious sinners.  As we read in Ephesians 2:4-6, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

In verse 8 we learn about the permanence of agape love in contrast to the temporary nature of the gifts of prophecy, tongues, and knowledge.  Verse 9 reminds us that our knowledge and prophecies are incomplete.  There is much that we do not know about spiritual things.  Verse 10 tells us that when we reach the perfect state of glory in heaven, then all partial knowledge and prophecies will be done away.  Verses 11 and 12 compare our lives now to childhood when our understanding was less complete.   Being in heaven is likened to becoming an adult when we have more understanding than we did as a child.  Our lives now are like looking in a cloudy mirror where we do not see our reflection clearly.  However, in the glory we will see all things clearly.  What a day that will be!  We will be face to face with Christ our Savior and understand things that we could not understand during our lives here.  Verse 13 tells us that faith, hope, and love abide but the greatest of these is love.  This is telling us that the fruit of the Spirit is more lasting than the gifts of the Spirit.  The greatest of these three Christian graces is love since it is the most useful to others.

How do we show more unselfish, agape love to others?  Is it by trying harder?  1 John 4:19 says, “We love, because he first loved us” (NASB).  Focusing on Christ and His love for us, not trying harder, will empower us to love others in a more Godly way.  This honors the Lord and will result in much blessing to others.  (199.5)  (DJ)