Read this small passage half a dozen times. It is poetic, so has a rhythm which helps in the reading. Include the second part of the last verse of chapter 12: 'Let me show you a way of life that is best of all'. It is exceedingly appropriate to start our study of this beautiful chapter on the day when we look at 'The fruits of the Holy Spirit are...LOVE' in our new sermon series today at Bearfield.
Paul proclaims that LOVE is far superior to speaking in tongues, prophecy, wisdom, knowledge, faith, sacrificial giving and discernment of spirits. Perhaps you secretly hanker after one or more of these gifts: God will only give it to you when your heart is full of love, when what you do-whether it be healing, prophesying or whatever, that you are using the gift in the spirit of love for others and love for God. The heart of Jesus moved within Him when He saw the leprous, the demon-possessed, the blind, crippled, poverty stricken. He didn't heal and bring new life from a state of coldness, of wanton sense of superiority. It cost Him to heal, note that power went out of Him when the woman with the issue of blood touched Him! Those I have known who have been wonderfully gifted in one of the gifts Paul mentions here have paid the price in other areas of their life, just as Paul had with his chronic complaint, his 'thorn in the flesh'. I know a dear man who has conducted quite a few exorcisms and each time, he had to rest for days afterwards. God's gifts are FREE, but they don't come CHEAP!
LOVE must be the one driver when we preach or take children's groups or welcome people at the entrance to the church: whatever we do must be driven by the love of God, not by selfish ambition.