November 26, 2017
Gifted 2 Serve – Week 12 – Love is the Point
Gifted 2 Serve – Week 12 – Love is the Point
Last week we looked at the supernatural Gifts and we saw that each of them is is given to the body by the Holy Spirit in the need of the moment to edify and build up the body. Today we continue looking at what Paul says in this crucial passage. Starting in Verse 12
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
The problem in the Corinthian church was not a new one. In fact it is the battle the church must always fight for. UNITY! Jesus prayed specifically to the father that We would be unified. That we would be one. It should not suprise us when that is what the enemy seeks to destroy in every church. This is why it is so important to love one another. To serve one another and to honor one another. If we cannot do this we will not have unity. But the great thing is if we use the gifts God has given to love serve and honor one another it leads us to unity of the Spirit and we will see God work in our midst.
Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
Paul reminds us that God has placed us together to accomplish the mission He has for us. Think about what was going on in the Corinthian church. There was backbiting, and fighting, there was a distane for members of the church because they were not as wealthy, or as cultured as others. There was a sense that they did not like each other and ultimately they felt “some people” should not be part of them. They didn’t measure up. Maybe “they” weren’t spiritual enough. Paul says this is not the way that God created the body. We are all part of the body of Christ
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
Paul reminds them that they should not play favorites, they should not have cliques, They are to love each other in such a way as to build each other up till we are all mature and serving God with the gifts he gives to us.
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
We are to care enough for each other that we know when someone is suffering. We should love each other and be part of each other’s lives in such a way that we honor and rejoice with each other.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.
Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?
Paul closes this section with reminding us that none of us get all of it. Why? So we need each other. God does not want us to be self sufficient. He does not want us to be independent Christians. Instead He wants us to be interdependent. He wants us to need each other and to depend on each other.
Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.”
What is that most excellent way? LOVE! The next chapter is intrinsically tied to 12 and 14. In the Greek there is a grammatical Structure that is called a chiasm. In its smallest form it looks like A-B-A. A Chiasm is a structure is a symmetrical way of writing where biblical writers used it to illustrate or highlight details of particular importance. They would start with one theme transition to a second theme and then return to the former theme. These can be found all throughout the Bible. These chapters form a large chiasm that spans this whole topic but places the emphasis of spiritual gifts squarely in the middle of this chapter specifically begin in verse 8 LOVE NEVER FAILS!
The point of these spiritual gifts are to love. Love is the chiefest gift that God gives us. Look at Chapter 13 verse 1.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Just as we saw that gifts are not a sign of maturity, they are also not a sign of love. Every one of us has the opportunity to be used by God to love others by using the gifts God has given us.
If we use those gifts but do not tap into the source of God’s perfect love then we are nothing better than noise makers. Paul says if we are not loving when we use the gifts God gives, we make ourselves worthless and useless. And we gain nothing from the exercise of the gifts. The very grace that God intends to extend to us when we serve Him instead is taken away from us and instead we feel emptiness and loss.
We have all read the next few verses many times in the context of a marriage and every time we do it seems so challenging. But now look at these verses in the context of serving one another.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
I don’t know about you but if there was ever a convicting passage of scripture in the Bible this is it. This is a description of the LOVE that God gives us. HE is patient with us. HE is Kind to us. HE is not all about his needs, He is not prideful, or boasting of Himself. HE does not dishonor us, HE is not self seeking, HE is not easily angered by our sin. HE does not keep a record of our wrongs. There is nothing evil in Him, but instead rejoices when the truth wins. HE always protects, HE always trusts, HE always hopes, He always perseveres. HE NEVER FAILS.
WOW! That is amazing. And that is AGAPE love. the same love that we are called to love with. We are called to love with perfect love as we serve. I don’t know about you but I don’t always do that. In fact, I rarely do that. The best moments I have in service are when there is none of me in it. When I am serving and I have nothing to give but instead The Holy Spirit takes over and I do not resist Him. Then I can love with AGAPE love. This is SUPERNATURAL love. It is not within me to do. It is the greatest gift that God gives to us. But we have to allow Him to do it through us. We cannot do this on our own. We need the Holy Spirit to do it in us.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
This is where the idea that these miraculous gifts have disappeared. But the problem is we are not complete. In the context of this scripture, WE (corporately) must be completely mature. Remember that is the goal of spiritual gifts found in Ephesians that we might all grow up into Him and be perfectly mature. (Eph 4:13) That has not happened and I will not happen until Christ comes again and presents us to the father as a pure and spotless bride. (Eph 5:27; Col 1:22; Jude 1:24). As we will talk about Advent next week that is what we will be looking forward to. His second coming. But until then we continue to grow in Him and we need His power and His love to flow through us in the gifts that HE wants us to use. Once we are in His presence we will not need those gifts because we will have perfect love as HE has for us.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
Paul is using an illustration to prove His point. He is not saying He has fully matured. How do I know this? Look at what he says next.
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
What a day that will be, When my Jesus I shall see, And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand, And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
We close today with this. Paul says three things will continue past that day. Faith, Hope and Love. But the Greatest of those is Love.
May we be people known for how we serve well and how we love well.
1 Pet 4:7-11
7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides,so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
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