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 (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, 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. 1 Corinthians 13:3 shows that even self-sacrificing, charitable works can be done with motives other than true love.
1 Corinthians 13:4 through 1 Corinthians 13:7 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.
1 Corinthians 13:11 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" (1 Corinthians 13:13).
As the New Living Translation says in 1 Corinthians 14:1, "Let love be your highest goal"!