“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”
– 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NLT
Have you ever wondered why it was a temptation for Jesus to turn stone into bread but not a temptation for Him to multiply bread or to turn water to wine? Today’s charge will answer that question.
Spiritual gifts have a purpose; they are meant for service. They are not primarily for self-preservation or selfish gain. Paul spent time teaching about this in 1 Corinthians 13, right after he taught about spiritual gifts.
In verses 1-3, he explained that even the gifts of tongues, prophecy, and faith lose their essence if our motives are wrong. Expressing these gifts without love is akin to being like a clanging cymbal, making empty noise; no one can benefit from you.
He then goes on to explain in verses 4 -8 the characteristics of love. So, let’s examine love in the light of these spiritual gifts. Love does not seek its own; therefore, spiritual gifts are not self-serving. Instead, you are to use your gifts to serve others (1 Peter 4:10).
Love is not puffed up, and it doesn’t dishonour others. Therefore, the fact that you operate in any gift does not mean you are better than the people the gifts are meant to serve. Since love does not boast, spiritual gifts should not make us vain, arrogant, or egotistical, but rather make us confident in the power of God at work in us, and grateful for the privilege to serve.
Let’s look at an example in Jesus. When Jesus was teaching at the mountainside in Matthew 15:32-37, He saw that the people had been with Him for three days and had nothing to eat. He was moved with compassion, and that made Him miraculously provide food for 4000 of them to eat. The people were Jesus’ motivation.
In Luke 7:11-15, Jesus saw a widow who was weeping because she had just lost her son. Jesus was moved with compassion, and He went ahead to raise the woman’s son. Christ, who is our great example, was never indifferent to the sufferings of the people—love always motivated Him to perform diverse types of miracles to lift their sufferings.
There are so many examples in Scripture where Jesus was moved with compassion to heal the sick and cast out demons. Let this be your example. As Christians, we are supposed to be moved by the sufferings of those around us, and seek to meet their needs by the power of God in us. This is how to function effectively in spiritual gifts.
We live in a world that’s desperate for help, so we can’t stay hidden or quiet. The Holy Spirit in you must count for something. You need to welcome situations where you get to pray for people and minister your gifts to them.
Dear friend, to be effective and stay consistent in your gifts, you must walk in love. Compassion for others should fuel your desire for spiritual gifts. God sees your motives, and they matter (James 4:3). Desire spiritual gifts so that you can witness, serve the body of Christ, and give help to those who need it.
Bible Reading Plan: Numbers 19-21