The Most Excellent Way
Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:3 NIV)
When we look at the life of Jesus we see that his identity was not defined by what he did but by who he was. Satan's attack on Jesus, like those of the Pharisees, was that he said he was the Son of God.
Whilst spiritual gifts are important and necessary for the life of the church they are not the things which give us our identity. We desperately need more of the gifts of the Spirit and we should earnestly desire them (1 Cor 12:31).
Paul tells us they are good but he also tells us there is another way which is the more excellent way of love. In 1 Corinthians 13 he is not principally talking about our love for others but the Father's love for us. This is the best and most important way, more necessary and vital to us than the gifts of the Spirit. This is the way that leads to life. As we become rooted and grounded in love we will discover the ultimate gift that will never fail or let us down. It is the gift that goes beyond and outlasts all other gifts. A life of love is the one we should pursue with all our heart.
Whilst we desire the gifts of the Spirit, we should chase after love or make it our greatest aim. The gifts of the Spirit have their place but it is ultimately only love which transforms lives.
As our heart is filled with the love of the Father we will start to see him face to face and become known by him (1 Cor 13:12).
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