Todays readings.. 2 Kings 4, Jeremiah 52, 1 Corinthians 12, 13
“BUT THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE”
Today we read Paul’s marvellous, but challenging chapters about the right use of the gifts of the spirit that the Corinthians possessed. It is vital to grasp the whole ‘picture’ of the nature and use of gifts that chapters 12 and 13 – also 14 reveal to us – unfortunately this is often not done in our days. .
We have heard people speaking in supposed ‘tongues’ – an unknown form of ‘speech: it serves no purpose, ch. 14 spells this out quite plainly, indeed as we read it we will see how Paul makes the point in v.23 concerning even genuine tongue speaking – that if “outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds?”
Indeed, if we look back at Acts ch, 2 when genuine ‘tongues’ first occurred to the disciples on “the day of Pentecost” when “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” [v.1,4]. But God’s spirit was in control. Visitors came from far and wide to the feast of Pentecost – and they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? … how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?” [v.7.8]
It is sad that there are some that try to imitate tongue speaking today – but they are not literal languages, we have heard them. Tape recordings have been made – others have tried in vain to ‘interpret’ them..
In today’s ch. 13, Paul said, “Love never ends. …. as for tongues, they will cease” [v.8]
When the Gospels and Paul’s and other letters came to be written, copied, circulated and translated, there was no longer a need for the tongues – they had served their purpose. Paul, who travelled to many lands with many languages, said, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.” [14 v.18]
Verses 4 to 8 in ch. 13 are the words of Paul we should know best, even know by heart! “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
Finally, in the last verse in this chapter Paul declares, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” AS a postscript thought – when Jesus returns – faith and hope will be fulfilled – so “love” will be the guiding factor to “abide” in our lives throughout the Kingdom.