Spiritual gifts versus Love
Today we conclude our study in the gifts of the Godhead.
Over the last sessions we have studied, the spiritual gifts given by God.
1. The spiritual gifts are given to us by the Father. These are the so-called “motivational gifts” described in (Romans 12:3-8) and include prophecy, serving, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, and mercy.
2. The spiritual gifts given to us by the Son are the “ministry or office” gifts described in (Ephesians 4:11-13) and are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers whose role is to equip and prepare the saints for ministry.
3. The spiritual gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:11). These gifts are given to build up and profit the body and bring unity to the church. They include the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, different tongues, and interpretation. Together these gifts are blended into the life of the believer. Other gifts given by God include hospitality, celibacy, and martyrdom.
However, although these gifts are wonderful, scripture points beyond them to the most excellent thing of all in the life of a believer which is love i.e. agape love. Agape love is the very love of God Himself (see Romans 5:5). Love is not a gift as such, but love is the fruit of the Spirit and as we saw last time (Galatians 5:22). Love is not one fruit of nine, but love is the blended whole or you could say the full character of God.
Here is an analogy.
If you take white light and shine through a prism (or raindrop). We get a rainbow i.e. a spectrum of seven colours (ROYGBIV), white light consists of a blend of these seven colours.
When God shines his love through the heart of believer. The components of love are shown in his/her life from amongst the joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
In any given circumstance, the love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit will show in our lives in the appropriate way.
With the difficult person/situation – our love is expressed by longsuffering
With praise/thankfulness – our love is expressed by joy
With temptation – our love is expressed by self-control
With a person in need – our love is expressed by kindness
God is love; he describes himself as love. The very being of God is love. With this in mind let us turn to our keynote scripture.
1 Corinthians 12:29-31
Verse 31; We are told to covet (strongly desire) the best gifts and yet there is something beyond the gifts of God. Something for every circumstance.
1 Corinthians 13; The love chapter is often read at weddings, but it is not talking about romantic love but something even more solid, real, and stronger. This is the love of Christian marriage This is the Love of Church Life. This is the Love of Jesus Christ that we must show to the lost.
13:1-3; Love is necessary in our lives. Without God`s love in us, motivating us and working through us. No matter how great the gifts and miracles in our lives, they amount to nothing because God who is love was not present in them. It is not the issue from your mouth so much as the issue of love from your heart that pleases God.
God values his love in our hearts much more than all knowledge, wisdom, and learning.
Moving mountains and great obstacles impresses men but love-in-action, which is practical day-to-day love counts with God.
Love is open-hearted and is open-handed as required.
Love is open minded to all that is good. Even to lay down your very life (out of any other motive than pure love) would be wasted.
Verse 4-7; Try reading 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 but replacing each example of the word’ love’ with ‘Jesus Christ’.
Love is patient, endures evil, being provoked, being attacked and persecuted, suffering for a long time and does not allow itself to be filled with resentment or desire for revenge.
Love keeps no record of evil. Love actively searches for good and kind deeds to perform. Love does assert its rights but forfeits them. Love doesn`t fret or get jealous at the success of others (even the wicked). Love never wishes or rejoices in evil coming upon anyone. King David fasted and prayed for his enemies!
Love doesn`t even rejoice at a human enemy`s demise. Love is not puffed up with pride, position, title, or status nor is it bloated with self-conceit. The true love of God in our hearts produces care for others and a growing concern for their welfare.
We must decrease that he might increase in love. Love calms anger and rage that would seek to well up within us and consume us. Love brings peace and restores our joy. Love never sets out to trip, trick or cause a neighbour to stumble or fall.
If you are acting in love, you won`t tempt a brother or sister to commit a sin. Love is never touchy, tetchy, or irritable, nor quick to fly off handle. Love hates flattery and deception. Love believes the best in any given situation.
Verse 8-13; Love never fails. Use it freely in every circumstance. Gifts are only partial, incomplete. Love is the master-key, or should we say the master’s key?
The spiritual gifts are for this life not eternity, but God`s love is eternal (as well as for this life). Faith, hope, and love are necessary for this life.
Faith will give way to sight for we shall see His face.
Hope will turn into an experience fulfilled, but Love is eternal, for God is Love.
Love is practical:
Galatians 6:9-10 You and I must show God`s love to the people in our lives. Here are the things that will show God’s love to others.
1. Be patient with our wives and husbands, children, parents, relatives, neighbours, bosses, workers, friends, and enemies. Submit to that love, surrender your hearts, and submit any resentment or bitterness to Him.
2. Be kind to them
3. Do not envy them
4. Do not boast or display arrogance
5. Do not be rude
6. Do not believe the worst of them but the best
7. Do encourage them
8. Do serve them sharing your life with them including your goods, time, money, abilities and be there for them.
If God’s agape love is already in your heart, submit to it, act on its prompting and the moving of your heart, let it flow, love never fails.
Love is our goal. Let us pray that we would spread around that love of God from our hearts to all people in our lives but particularly to our fellow believers.