We’ve come a ways with this study on “Concerning Spiritual.” And I’ll continue it through 1 Corinthians chapter fourteen. Why? Because so much of this has been lost in the church. Jesus restored the knowledge of the gifts of the Spirit to the church, but the church has largely turned a blind eye. In these last of the last days, we need to understand and be available to be used by God in the gifts.
If we don’t desire the gifts, they probably won’t come. At least not very often if at all.
“But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31).
A more excellent way than the best gift? This must be important!
And what is the “best” gift. I don’t know that I have an answer to that. But what I do know is what gift I need at the time becomes the best gift. For instance, if I’m sick, the best gift is the gifts of healings. But you’ll have to decide for yourself.
So what’s so important that it’s better than the best gift? Paul goes on to write: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1–3).
The “more excellent way” is walking in the love of God.
What Is Love?
For ease of understanding, I’m going to put the Amplified Bible’s translation here for you.
“Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.
It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].
It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]” (1 Corinthians 13:4–7).
In reality love is a spiritual force. It has nothing to do with how we feel. But it’s also something that needs to be practiced for it to grow. In other words, we may start out by practicing this God kind of love and not feel like it, but as we practice the word of God, we can develop spiritually until we’re consciously aware that the spiritual force of love is coming from our hearts.
God is love. Love is God. They’re inseparable. God is the love that these verses describe. This is how he treats us. This is a surprise for some because they don’t know what the love of God is.
Love is how God deals with people. Faith is how God deals with problems.
“The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5). This is important to know. After the fall of Man, the love of God was no longer in the hearts of the human race. We were separated from God, and it became impossible to keep the law of God (love). We weren’t just kicked out of the Garden of Eden, there was no place in heaven or the Kingdom of God for the corruption of sin. We were separated from God.
The law of Moses couldn’t replace the love of God. It was a fence to keep us from wondering to far from the will of God, but it couldn’t change the condition of the human heart. We see this plainly in Israel’s constant failures.
Jesus brought us back into right standing with God spiritually. We are born again. The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by His Spirit. But like an undeveloped muscle that doesn’t get used often, our love has been undeveloped because we don’t use it often. We’re too emotional and carnal. But as we use the love that’s been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, we begin to grow. And as we grow, we get to understand God and His ways more clearly.
Will we be perfect in walking in God’s love in this life? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, “No.” But we surely can get better.
“But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him” (1 John 2:5). God’s word is love. Obedience to His word is walking in love. His word is food for our spirits. His word is strength for our lives. Without His word, we wouldn’t know anything about Him.
As the love of God develops in us, 1 Corinthians 13:4–7 becomes, not a set of rules, but a force that comes from out hearts. A natural reaction toward people.
This is the high life we’re called to live. This is eternity for us. This is the commandment of God — love. We can’t enter heaven without it. It is the law of the land.
We need to learn to walk in love. Practice it and let God develop it in our hearts. It’s in there. Become aware of it.
This journey we’re taking in Christ is a lifelong experience. He’s not finding fault. He already knows our weaknesses. He’s working to make out lives spiritually mature and to be our ever present help in time of need. He accepts us where we are but doesn’t want to leave us in that condition. He wants us to mature and fellowship with Him at a higher level, but we have to want that also.
To know Him and to walk with Him in the highest level is to learn to walk in love as He walks in love.
Stay strong and prepared!