WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
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THE GREATEST GIFT IS LOVE
(Exercise your gifts with love)
(1 Corinthians 13)
Faith, hope and love are the three great enduring things. They are also the defining spiritual qualities that must be embodied by any person who desires to be a “true follower” of JESUS CHRIST, our LORD and SAVIOR, and anyone who wishes to worship GOD the FATHER in spirit, and in truth. Of those three qualities, “love” is the greatest.
In the Apostle Paul’s, now famous, first letter to the Corinthians, the segment we now know as chapter 13, is perhaps the best known passage. It has come to be known, the world over, as “The Love Chapter”. Here in this segment, Paul shifts his focus from that of “spiritual gifts”, to how one can measure and express his or her “spirituality” in the “most excellent way”. Paul insists that we can only reach spiritual maturity by applying “love” in the application of those spiritual gifts toward others, during our lifetime.
Love is an element of quality that is so vital, that, without it, not even the greatest of spiritual gifts, can enrich, or enhance the lives of anyone who possesses them, nor can they ever be of benefit to those who we wish to serve, help, or aid (Vs.1-3). Paul understood, quite clearly, that love is not just an abstract or philosophical idea, but rather, it is practical, and must be expressed in the everyday actions and attitudes of the believer (Vs.4-7).
Even the greatest of spiritual gifts are naturally “limited and distorted” by their own mortalities and human imperfections. No spiritual gift is designed by GOD to last forever, they will, over time, fade and deteriorate with age (Vs.8-12). However, through it all, we can rely on our “faith”, “hope”, and “love” (GOD personified) to sustain us, and love, which is the greatest of the three, is also the very foundation of the Christian Faith, and, of life itself. Understanding that, we can see quite vividly why love is the true measure of a person’s spirituality, and, why it exemplifies the closeness of one’s relationship with GOD.
Paul sought to make sure that we realize, quite readily, who among us is truly spiritual, and who it is among us that desire to dupe us. He helps us to make that distinction by first, making sure that we understand the true nature of love, and then, by presenting to us, the criteria by which we can evaluate the spirituality of others (diakrino judgment) so that we won’t be tricked into following the leadership and advice of false teachers.
Here Paul shows us, in his own brilliant sort of way, the true behavioral definition of “love”. In this passage the Apostle is saying in effect that, any person who claims to be a “spiritual representative of GOD”, quite simply, must act like it, and not just talk like it. GOD is love, and when JESUS came to earth, HE came to demonstrate that love to us in the most excellent sacrificial, unselfish way possible, over and over again. As a result, HE HIMSELF became what love should be like in human form. HE became “love personified” in the eyes of mankind for all time. HE showed us exactly what love should look like as an integral part of the human, earthly experience, and, how we need to incorporate that love into our everyday actions and attitudes.
And while it is true that perfection won’t come to the Christian Church until GOD’s program for it is consummated with the “second coming” of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, and, until then, a church is only perfect when no human being is in it (at the very moment human beings enter into a church building, perfection leaves out the door). However, we, as Christians can still all reach a high level of maturity by correctly learning and practicing the immortal acts of love already exhibited to us by CHRIST JESUS HIMSELF, while HE lived perfectly under GOD, in human form, here on earth.
All that we know now is partial and incomplete, because many of us are still mere children in CHRIST. And I guest, when we are children, we should be expected to act like children, just as when we become adults, we are expected to put away childish things and behavior. Before we come to know CHRIST, we’ve already long become accustomed to looking at ourselves through an unclean mirror, and we have never really seen ourselves as we really are.
Coming to know CHRIST gives us an opportunity to walk into the store of GOD and pick us up a free bottle of “Faith”, which contains within it, the blood of CHRIST. We then can take that bottle home and use it to spray some “Hope” on that unclean mirror. And with “Love” we can wipe the stain away, and begin seeing ourselves clearly for the very first time. From there, we will able to turn our lives around and start to head in the right direction, and through the mercy of GOD that is contained in “Salvation”, and the leadership of the HOLY SPIRIT that is embodied in us, we can begin to walk in “the newness of life”, that can only be found, in CHRIST JESUS.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website