Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The More Excellent Way Is Love

By:  Angela Lee Price
"But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I to you a still more excellent way" 1 Corinthians 12:31 (ESV).

In our 21st century digital age, most people don’t mail letters anymore.  The postal service has taken a back seat to technology and the internet. The tech savvy would much rather e-mail for a quicker response.  If the Apostle Paul were with us today, I would imagine he, too, would want a quick response to his letters to the churches for he addressed urgent matters.  In 1 Corinthians Chapter 13, the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to a church about the urgency of love. The church at Corinth was experiencing division, immorality, and mis-use of spiritual gifts.  Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the supremacy and importance of love.   This is a letter that bears re-reading in 2017 because, beloved, it is not more technology, gadgets, and over-sized flat screen televisions that we need.  With political unrest, terrorism here and abroad, and murder and violence increasing in the city streets, what we need is more love.  Love is a still more excellent way.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul told the church that love is superior to spiritual gifts, and the necessary ingredient with the use of gifts, "But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way" 1 Corinthians 12:31 (ESV). In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul elaborated on the more excellent way of love, its great value, virtue, and victory.

There is great value in love!  The value of love is beyond estimation. It is more valuable than silver and gold, and the most precious diamonds and gems.   Love makes a house a home.  No gift or possession is meaningful without love.    And it has been said that people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.  Everyone needs to be loved.  In 1 Cor. 13:1-3, Paul compares the superiority of love to the gift of languages, the gift of prophecy, miraculous faith, and the doing of sacrifices and good deeds.  We must recognize the value of love also, for God's love enables us to do His work effectively.  God is love and the more like Him we become in character, the more we will possess the fruit of love (1 Cor. 13:1-3).

Not only is there great value in love, there is great virtue in love!  The virtues of love include joy, peace, kindness, patience, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control, the fruit of the Spirit.  Many people try to express the virtues of love without possessing love.  This is impossible to do.  We must possess the Spirit of Christ if we are to succeed in performing the work of Christ. Being filled with the Holy Spirit enables us to practice the virtues of love (1 Cor. 13:4-7).  What is love?  Is it the giving of candy and flowers on Valentine’s Day? No, not some much.  "L-O-V-E" means "LORD OF VIRTUE EVERLASTING." Jesus Christ is Lord of virtue, and the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 3:13).

In addition to there being great value and virtue in love, there is great victory in love! Love will do for you what no other power will do.  Family members, friends, pleasures, and possessions sometimes fail, but love never fails. Faith pleases God, but faith serves its purpose only in this life. We cannot live without hope, but hope will not  be needed in the next life. Love is eternal; it will unfold in greater beauty and glory while endless ages roll. Victory is assured  to those who are filled with the love of God (1 Cor. 13:8-13).

No matter how gifted you are, how great you can sing, or minister the Word of God, you're just making a whole lot of noise without love.    In the end, God is looking for a people with His nature and character.  God wants us to share His love with a dying world.  Choose the still more excellent way of love.  Love never fails!

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