The Gifts of the Spirit and Love Part 1
For the purposes of this blog I will be quoting from the NIV unless otherwise noted. I will not post the whole thing but here is a link to the related reading, 1 Corinthians 12 13 & 14 : 1-25. A warm thank you to the International Bible Society.
I am talking about love today because someone I have on occasion debated with in the past ended our potential for discourse and tried my absolute belief in love. It was the nature of the insult, in the course of a debate about homosexual rights, that gave me pause to think. The gentleman in question, Fred, made a claim of his superiority over me. For the nature of the debate and it's social/political implications I will be posting to my other blog - I will link to the post from here when it is up.
I am also going to discuss the gifts of the Spirit because I have recently been involved in more than one discussion of them. And as the gifts relate closely to Paul's discussion of Love to the church in Corinth, it seemed fortuitous to discuss this all now.
Love and Superiority
I think the best place to start has it's heart in what sent me to Paul's letter to the Church in Corinth today. It is also illustrative of how we allow Satan to find footholds in our souls. You see as soon as I saw the posted comment in which Fred declared his superiority over me my first reaction was to think, "oh, you are so wrong - because I am a much better person than you." Now when faced with an insult like Fred's one might consider that while juvenile, my first reaction was understandable - perhaps even justified - but should we call it sin? Paul gives us a great standard to work with in 1 Cor. 13:4-7 and part of 8:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
I shudder to think of the above list and which items were on my heart when I had my flash of anger this morning. My heart was boasting and rude, I was angry and self righteous - he was wrong and I was right and that makes me better! But it doesn't - it makes us equally human and equally wrong. I do not know if he is a believer, but I am and I know that I was wrong. I was not reacting with love but with anger. We are commanded to love our neighbor as our self - in his first letter to the church in Corinth Paul describes both the importance of love and the characteristics of love. Often people equate 1 Cor. 13 with weddings and marriage but when taken in context it encompasses far more - it is a life model.
Love - part of life or way of life pt.1
I think most people are aware of the four loves. If not, go here. I liken those loves to the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit - but one God. Friendly love, family love, erotic love and Godly love, together are Love. Love is not an option - in fact we need to live love, the love of Jesus, which encompasses all of these. The idea is not to have occasional loving moments, this is to be a way of life. In Romans 13:8-9
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
Paul sums it up quite clearly - our only debt is a debt to love our fellow man - this is the law. Before he even wrote to the Corinthian church about love and prophecy he is emphasizing the importance, the tremendous importance of Love. Then he tells us we can summon up all other commandments - "love your neighbor as yourself." We are a very social society, we run into our neighbors pretty constantly. Whether in a store, sharing the road - we interact with our fellow man. And Paul tells us clearly to love them all. Later, in Galatians 5:5-7, Paul again reiterates that the new law of Love trumps the old law:
5 But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.Before we explore what Paul has to tell us in 1 Corinthians about the importance of love as a way of life lets first skip ahead to chapter 14 and hear about the gifts of the Spirit.
The Gifts of the Spirit
Will be continued in part 2