December 1 – 1 Corinthians 12-14 – Transforming Love
Today’s Tasting: 1 Corinthians 12-14
These three chapters are a continuation of Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth and a continuation of his instructions to them as to how they should be behaving as followers of Christ. Chapter 12 begins with an explanation of the gifts that are provided by the Holy Spirit. Paul tells them that while there are different kinds of gifts, they are all gifts from the same spirit which makes no one of them more important than the other. He relates the gifts to the parts of our body in his explanation that each has their unique role in the functioning of the body. He goes on to explain that the Church is the body of Christ and that each member too has their own role in making the body function.
Paul goes on in Chapter 13 to talk about the import role that love plays with regard to sharing the gifts of the spirit. He tells them that if they are not sharing their gifts with love, they are missing the whole point, as the gifts are meant to edify the church and bring glory to the Lord. Paul ends this chapter with one of the most well-known verses of the Bible – “Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love”.
In chapter 14 we get the impression that the people in Corinth are fighting over which of the gifts is the greatest and Paul provides clarity by telling them that while the gift of tongues is a blessing, it is the gift of prophecy that can do the most good. He reminds them that speaking in tongues is a sign for the unbeliever, while prophecy is a benefit to the believer. Paul also provides them with guidance as to the order of the church meetings so there is not chaos. He reminds them that “God is not a God of disorder but of peace” (14:33).
It appears as if the members of the church at Corinth may have been experiencing some the same struggles with ego and control that we have today and Paul is trying to teach them how to keep things in perspective and focus on sharing Christ’s love by being the example.
I have recently been doing my Bible reading from a new Bible I discovered called the Jesus-Centered Bible and I am enjoying how it brings out points that I may not have considered. In these chapters from 1 Corinthians for example, it brings attention chapter 13 and the kind of love that transforms us so that we can live Christ-like lives:
Love is a hard thing. Often the focus is on the beautiful, warm aspects of loving another. While that’s all good and true, love has another facet that makes it much more complex. Love means that we set ourselves up, intentionally, to experience the pain that comes when those we choose to love hurt – or when they hurt us. This passage is frequently used in weddings, as young love is publicly proclaimed. But it’s also a passage that shouts to all followers of Jesus, no matter what state of life we’re in. Good works and good intentions are nice, Paul says, but that definition of love always falls short. Our “deepest obedience” is to love when it is beautiful and good, and to love when it means walking through the dark, messy places with another. This is love the way Jesus defines it – a love that transforms by its persistent presence. Love can hut in our lifetime. But from the perspective of eternity, love always wins out. Love is pain’s next-door neighbor – but even in our pain, those who follow Jesus can already taste the sweetness of eternal victory. As the proverb reminds us: “It’s Friday, but Sunday is coming!”
Tomorrow’s Delight: 1 Corinthians 15-16
Hugs & Blessings,