One Bible chapter—1 Corinthians 13—is aptly known as the love chapter since it gives us a beautiful description of what godly love is like!
The rest of this letter from the apostle Paul shows that some Corinthian church members sought certain spiritual gifts with a wrong motive—to gain superior status. In 1 Corinthians 12:31 1 Corinthians 12:31But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I to you a more excellent way.
American King James Version×(NIV), Paul said, “And now I will show you the most excellent way”— the right motive and approach for exercising all spiritual gifts—the way of love.
In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 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, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profits me nothing.
American King James Version×, Paul mentions several impressive gifts. No matter which gift we have, if we are lacking love, then in God's sight we are nothing! Without love, the gift is tarnished, the results are ineffectual and God is displeased. Verse 3 shows that even self-sacrificing, charitable works can be done with motives other than true love.
Verses 4 through 7 tell us some of the characteristics of true love: Love is not selfish or self-centered. It is kind, humble, forgiving, courteous, not easily angered, respectful, trusting, positive and hopeful. It also gives us spiritual resilience and patience so that it willingly “endures all things” to obey and serve God.
Envy and competition create division, as was the case in the Corinthian church. Love is the great unifier.
Verse 11 points out that emotional and spiritual maturity is best summed up by love.
We may tend to rank faith and hope alongside love, “but the greatest of these is love” (verse 13).
As the New Living Translation says in 1 Corinthians 14:1 1 Corinthians 14:1Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that you may prophesy.
American King James Version×, “Let love be your highest goal”! GN