The way of love and spiritual gifts

  • Post author:

The apostle Paul draws a clear connection between what he calls the way of love and spiritual gifts being used in a mature way amongst gatherings of believers.

In my previous message, I unpacked how Hebrews 10:19-25 speaks of what we have received through Jesus – intimacy with God, and how the faith, hope, and love that we have received leads us to a lifestyle of love expressed through continual mutual encouragements and good deeds, especially in light of the imminent return of Christ.

Those same three qualities of faith, hope, and love, are spoken of by the Apostle Paul in his great chapters on spiritual gifts and their proper use in the church body. The verses on which Paul’s argument hinges straddle across chapters 13 and 14.1 If we take out the chapter break, a single flow of thought becomes clear. Namely, that just as supernatural spiritual gifts cannot be separated from love, neither should we prioritise ‘natural’ acts of love over the supernatural empowerment by the Spirit of God.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.

1 Corinthians 13:13 – 14:1 (NIV). Paragraph break removed by me (Dave Dennis)

A better translation of the last phrase is “especially that you may prophesy” (e.g. NKJV, ESV). There is a difference in clarity – one suggests we might hunger after prophecy but in what way – to receive it? to have in church generally? Paul’s words are far more striking and direct – he wants us all to pursue the gift of prophecy as something we can all speak God’s direct and living word for each other. Of course he goes on to give clear guidelines and recognise our human weakness that needs humility and grace. The way of love and spiritual gifts are not either/or but both/and. The command is clear – hotly pursue both!

Lifeway Sunday message recording – 4th February, 2024.
  1. Note: Paul’s writing did not have chapters and verses, and the Koine Greek even lacked punctuation and paragraph breaks. The letter was created as a single continuous letter, and perhaps the chapter break may weaken the connection if we don’t read it as a single flow of thought. ↩︎