I Cor. 13:1-13
The various spiritual gifts were important to the early church, but they were nothing without love. Love is the most wonderful of all emotions and attributes. Paul said that it was more excellent than their spiritual gifts.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word…”
“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
Paul stated that if he spoke in tongues of men and angels, had the gift of prophecy, could understand all mysteries and knowledge, had faith to move mountains and even gave all of his goods to feed the poor and sacrificed his body, it would mean nothing if he did not have love.
Love is rich. Paul listed many of its qualities as he described this richness. The life and death of Christ were great examples of the love that he urged upon the Corinthians. Their divisions and strife were contrary to this love.
The various spiritual gifts that the Corinthians so highly valued were only temporary. Love is eternal! They were to aid and strengthen the church during its early years. After the church reached maturity and the written Word was available, there was no need for these gifts.
Paul compared the maturity of the church with the maturity of a child. As the church was maturing, it needed spiritual gifts as a child needs toys, school and other childish things. At maturity, these gifts were discontinued in the same way that the child puts away those things of his childhood.
Even in maturity, the church does not see the true image of truth and perfection, but only a blurred reflection as one who looks into a dim mirror. Christians understand the glory of heaven in the same way that a child understands the things of this world—very dimly. I remember as a small child looking into the sky and wondering how a person could get into such a small airplane. At the end of time when Christ returns, all things will be revealed face to face.
Paul stated that faith (one’s obedient belief in Christ); hope (one’s expectation of things to come) and love (God’s affection for man and man’s affection for God) will remain as long as the earth stands.
Love is the greatest of these three because love will remain into eternity while faith and hope will be replaced by the reality of sight at the end of time. Faith and hope are human and love is of God. They cannot exist and work without love for it is the basis of faith and hope.