Resolved: To Love.
"But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way."
~1 Corinthians 12:31
It’s resolution time! As we transition into 2011 many of us are thinking through what the new year will look like and what things we would like to change. One of my resolutions is to have a greater impact for Christ in the coming year. I want to be used by God to show people who Christ is and how He can change their lives. My guess is that you may have a similar resolution. So where do we start?
What Are You Missing?
The reality is that we all have excuses for why we have not accomplished more for Christ in the past. We tend to think that if we could change something about our self or our situation then we would be able to have a greater impact. These excuses tend to begin with “if I.”
If I were better public speaker
If I had greater insight into the Scriptures
If I had a leadership role in the church
If I had creative ideas that would inspire people
If I had a charismatic personality
If I had musical ability
If I had more education
If I were naturally good at organizing people and projects
If I could perform miracles like the apostles
If I _________________ (fill in the blank)
We could all make a list of gifts, skills, or traits that we think would make us more effective for Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12-14 the Corinthians found themselves in a similar situation. They all wanted to have the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. They saw others in the church with the ability to speak in tongues, prophecy, explain the Scriptures, heal the sick, and perform miracles. With all of those extraordinary gifts being used around them, you can understand why some of the Corinthians may have been frustrated or confused. How could they have an impact for Christ if they didn’t have one of those miraculous gifts?
In 1 Corinthians 12:31 Paul tries to help the Corinthians understand their position more clearly. He says But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. Paul is saying that it is okay for the Corinthians to desire the great gifts of the Spirit so long as they recognize there is a MORE EXCELLENT way to serve God.
The More Excellent Way – Love
Paul had the Corinthians interest peaked. Paul has my interest peaked as well! We were just told that there is a way to have a greater impact for Christ than performing miracles, speaking in tongues, or even prophesying. So what is this more excellent way? Love! We are to love God supremely, love others sincerely, and love both sacrificially.
Paul explains that even if we have all of the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, if we do not have love we are like a “noisy gong or a clanging symbol.” He goes on to say that even if we perform miracles and die for the cause of Christ, if we do not have love we are nothing and we will gain nothing. Regardless of the gifts that God may or may not give us, He expects love to be the foundation of everything.
As we think through how we want to change and grow in 2011 love should be at the top of our lists. We need to work hard to love others more consistently, not only in our attitudes, but also in our actions. If we learn to love this way then we are setting ourselves up to have a big impact for Christ in 2011.
Love. It sounds simple, but in truth it is easier said than done. In order to truly love God supremely and love others sincerely we will have to take the focus off of ourselves. It can no longer be about what “Thomas wants,” but rather it has to be about what best serves God and others.
So where do we start? We start by learning about others. What needs do others have? How could others be helped or served? What do others want? If you are having a hard time answering these questions then I want to encourage you to work hard at getting to know the people whom you want to love. As you get to know them better, then you will learn how you can better love and serve them.
What is True Love?
In the coming months I will be considering what true love is. Many people define love in many different ways. Some say love is a feeling, some say love is a choice, and others say love is an action. Who's right? What does the Bible say? Good questions! I look forward to learning what Paul meant when he called love a MORE EXCELLENT way.
Resolved: To Love…
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