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1 Corinthians 13: Love the Body--The Greatest Gift

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Reading: 1 Corinthians 13

Text
1 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. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, 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. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor. 13:1-13 NIV)

Reflecting and Thinking
Today's textual reading is a little longer than normal-1 Corinthians 13, the "Love Chapter." The members at Corinth were focused on who had the most important spiritual gift, on who had preeminence, importance, reputation, and position. Paul said, "You have not even considered the greatest gift in the body." Let me show you the most excellent way. What are some of the ways in which love is the greatest gift?

As Paul explains in verses 8-10, the things the Corinthians were focused on were temporary. Tongues would cease. Prophecies would pass away, knowledge would pass away, the incomplete (imperfect) would pass away. The same verb is used in each of these statements, even though the NIV translation uses three different verbs. The gifts the Corinthians considered most important would stop. Tongues would cease. Their prophecies and knowledge were partial and incomplete and would pass away when the complete came. The focus on temporary gifts failed to honor the body and the contributions of every member. The focus on temporary gifts tended to maintain a state of immaturity. The focus on temporary gifts failed to consider the possibility of spiritual development and maturity. The focus on temporary gifts failed to think about the potential for full knowledge. The focus on temporary gifts failed to consider what was really lasting-faith, hope, and love, with the greatest of these as love.

Prayer
Dear God, help us learn the most excellent way. Help us establish as our priorities the things that matter most to you. Help us focus on things that matter and things that can make a difference. Help us not become distracted in things that call attention to ourselves. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.


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Last updated October 21, 2011