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Family Ministry Moments - May 2024

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A More Excellent Way

In 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, we discover the church in Corinth had been ranking Christians based on their spiritual gifts.  Spiritual gifts such as the gift of tongues and healing were thought to be better than other gifts.  People were separating themselves in a pseudo-class system based on the gifts they displayed.  Paul rebukes the church and reminds them that all these gifts come from the Holy Spirit.  Even though they are displayed differently each gift is an expression of the one Spirit.  Paul uses our physical bodies as an illustration.  Each body part is different, however all of them are important and useful.  The same is true for the distinct spiritual gifts.  The church needs all of them to function properly,  no one gift is better than another.

As you read through the passages you might notice there is a break in his discussion of this topic.  At the end of chapter 12, Paul tells the church that he will show them still a more excellent way.  There is something even greater than spiritual gifts, a way to more fully experience the Lord and express Him to those around us. That way is LOVE!

1 Corinthians 13 is thought of as the love chapter.  Often this passage is used in weddings to express the type of love we want to bestow on our mate, however this passage is not just good for weddings.  Paul was not thinking about marital love when he wrote this.  He was thinking about the love that Christians should have for one another.  Remember, Jesus spoke often about how we should love each other.  John 13:34-35; John 15:9-17; Matthew 5:43-48; and Matthew 22:37-39 are a few places where Jesus speaks about love.  He commands us to love everyone: fellow believers, neighbors, and even our enemies.  I cannot help but think that Paul had some of these words in mind as he wrote 1 Corinthians 13.  It is a great expression of how we are to love others.

First Paul says that we can do all kinds of works for the Lord but if we do not have love then we have nothing, this is a strong statement. Paul puts everyone on notice that how we do ministry is as important as the ministry we do.  He tells us that we can even give our life for Jesus but if our motivation is not love then we do it in vain.  This tracks with many other scriptures from Paul and the other apostles (1 John 2-4; 1 Peter 4:8; Colossians 3:14; Romans 13:8). They all make it clear that love is the primary attitude when it comes to living out our Christian faith.

Paul then shows us what love looks like.  The list in verses 4-7 are very convicting.  I can recall very vividly where I have failed to love people in this way.  I am extremely thankful that sanctification is an ongoing process.  Learning to love others in a Christlike way does not come to us naturally.  We must rely on the transformative power of the gospel.  Love is a fruit of the spirit so only those that are saved and submitting to the spirit will be able to live this way.

The challenge for our modern church is the same as it was for the church in Corinth– to stop looking for ways to puff ourselves up and make ourselves important.  Our charge is to love everyone as Christ has loved us.  Paul helps us by putting it on the “bottom shelf” so that we can understand what love looks like.  As a Christian, loving others with
Christlike love is the most important thing we can do.  None of what we do means anything unless we do it with love.  This is the more excellent way– the way of Christ.

Posted by Bryan Gotcher with