Today we're reading 1 Corinthians 13.
This famous chapter of scripture is part of Paul's teaching on spiritual gifts which began back in chapter 12.
The Corinthians had a proud perspective on spiritual gifts. The more powerfully God had gifted someone, the more spiritual that person seemed to be. Here in verses 1-3, Paul taught that spiritual power is useless without love. It doesn't matter how elevated your language is through the gift of tongues, how prophetic your words are or how sacrificial your giving may be, without love there is no meaningful spiritual impact
So what is love? Instead of defining it, Paul described it. It is patient and kind. It does not envy others or call attention to itself. It is not defensive. All of these things point to one reality--love is a focus on what is good for others.
It is so easy for us to become self-centered, isn't it? We serve but we are aware of the cost that service extracts from us. We give but we resent the attention someone else gets for using their gifts in the body. We make a contribution but wonder why we don't get more out of the church. These are all self-centered, unloving thoughts.
If you want your life to count for Jesus, you need to ask him to teach you to love--that is to focus on benefiting others and not think about yourself. The Bible says that love is the fruit of the Spirit; that means it is the result of your growth in grace by the spirit of God. Again, because pride and self-centeredness come so naturally to us this is something we need to continually ask God's help for.