Friday, March 22, 2013

A More Excellent Way


A More Excellent Way

 

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

When the Bible was initially written, the chapters and verse numbers were not part of the original text.  Those were added by man to make referencing passages possible.  When reading His Word we can sometimes see where the writer changed thoughts in the middle of a chapter, or continued his thoughts on to the next. 
When Paul finished talking of the nine spiritual gifts given in 1 Corinthians 12 (Knowledge, Wisdom, Discernment, Faith, Miracles, Healing, Prophesy, Speaking in Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues), he then says in the final verse, “But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. He continues in the next chapter by telling us of the greatest gift of all, love.

He says that even if he spoke in tongues, had wisdom and knowledge, and faith that could move mountains, but did it without operating in love, he was nothing. Listen carefully to that last word, NOTHING.  He goes on to say that “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.  These noble acts, feeding and providing for the poor, and being martyred, sound like good Christian living.  But, Paul says that without operating in love, it’s NOTHING.
Love is the greatest spiritual gift of all, and one in which all Christians should operate.  Service to God without love is NOTHING, it’s just work.  Worshipping God without love is NOTHING, just words and songs.  Witnessing to the lost without loving them, is NOTHING.

Unlike an employer, God does just want our obedience and loyalty.  He could have gotten that by creating robotic creatures with little chips in their brains to react the way he wanted them to react at all times.  But instead He gave us free will, the ability to do as we please, reacting in every situation based on what is in our hearts.  Why?  Because He wanted to be loved, worshipped, exalted, and glorified by our words, and our lives.  He has called us his children (Galatians 3:26), not employees or slaves.  Good fathers want the obedience and respect of their children, but not out of fear or prideful motivation to do what is right.  They want it out of love.
There are three kinds of love.  ‘Eros’ is an exotic love.  It comes from the Greek word eras, and is the kind of love we have when we “fall in love”, and have that desire to gratify our sexual desires.  In Greek mythology, Eros was the son of Aphrodite, and excited love in gods and mortals by shooting them with his arrows and torches, like cupid.  Eros is not the love of God.  Eros is temporary, and seeks to satisfy self.

‘Philos’ is another type of love, a “brotherly” love.  It’s the bond between family and friends.  It is affection, attachment, fond regard, and respect of another.  It comes from the Greek work Philia.  This kind of love is based on emotions, has limitations and comes with conditions.  You can lose the love of a friend or family based on your actions.  This is not the love of God.
‘Agape’ (ah-gah-pey) is the third kind of love, and is unselfish, unconditional, and cannot be altered by what we do.  Listen to Paul as he describes the love of God in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”
This is the love of God.  This love is different, and is the love we are to have for one another.  Without this love, nothing we do for God is of any value.  All your help to the poor and needy, your teaching, preaching, song singing, charitable gifts, and other fine Christian deeds, are, as Paul put it, NOTHING.  God’s heart’s desire is not that we simply serve each other, but that we love one another as He loves us. 

Love doesn’t gossip.

Loves doesn’t laugh at your mistakes.

Love doesn’t look for you to get what’s coming to you, but gives you mercy.

Love keeps your secrets.

Love seeks to do good things for you, without expecting anything in return.

Love is eternal and cannot be diluted, a solid rock to stand on, a strong arm to lean on.

Love doesn’t get offended and walk away.

Love picks your favorite flower and brings it to you with a smile.

Love colors you a picture for your refrigerator door.

Love will give you the shirt off their back when you need it.

Love lets you eat first, and is satisfied to have what’s left.

Love never does you harm.

Love seeks the pleasure of your company.

Love wants to know your deepest thoughts.

Love soothes your worries.

Love doesn’t lie.

Love can be trusted.

Love forgives, and never holds a grudge.

Love dries your tears.

Love gives you His Son because He can’t bear to ever be without you.


 

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