So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
If you’ve ever spent much time in Church or around Christians you might (Indeed hopefully) have noticed a major theme of what we’re about is love.
Paul defines love for us in 1 Corinthians 13, which is often read in weddings. Interesting however that on either side of this discussion are gifts of the Spirit. That is, supernatural occurrences which God’s Spirit enables.
I’m not going to talk too much abut gifts or their roles in the church. Rather, what Paul seems to be discussing in this part of the Scriptures is the supremacy of love as a gift from God.
We are encouraged to ‘earnestly desire the higher gifts.’ And what is that higher gift?
Beyond prophesy and healing, tongues and wisdom. Love is the supreme gift of God for his Church.
Love will endure. The words of our mouths will not endure forever. They are forgotten and those who are healed in this life will one day grow old and die. Yet the deeds of the love of God will endure by his power.
The various gifts of the Spirit exist for the building up of the Church and the common good. Love is our strongest building material and the greatest good we can give to each other.
The more excellent way Paul speaks of is the way of patience, kindness. Without envy and boasting and lacking arrogance, rudeness or the need for things to be as I want them. This way does not get frustrated at offences and wants the truth above all things.
This way is love. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
That’s terrifying. What demand! What a high-bar!
Maybe, like me, that way is one which seems to escape you often. Fear not though. God does not expect you to come up with this kind of love. This is included with the list of gifts from the Spirit! Feel no shame, therefore, in asking for this kind of love. Speaking in tongues and healing, prophesy and knowledge are the lesser gifts. The greatest gift is the way of love.