Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Corinthians 13:1
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1
This verse is speaking of the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. It is just one of many gifts of the Holy Spirit that God gives for equipping us for service to Him. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:7-11. Each of the gifts addressed above are all given to us by the Holy Spirit and apportioned to us as He chooses. Some may have only one of them, but others may have several. But it is the Spirit who decides.
Going back to the focus verse which refers to tongues, if we do not have love for others, then we are doing nothing but making noise. There was a lot of contentions within the Church at Corinth. They were so envious of each other’s gifts that unity within the church was on the verge of being destroyed. Paul was telling them that without love for God and man, the gifts and other graces they had were given was nothing in the eyes of God. This is a very strong statement. God gives us the gifts, but if we use them outside of love, then it means nothing.
He goes on in the next two verses, “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2-3. If we practice the gifts of prophecy, understanding mysteries, having all knowledge, faith to move mountains, give all we have away and give our bodies for suffering and death but have no love, there is no benefit for us. People in the church there saw these gifts as something to be proud of, that having them made them special. Which is why they were envious of the gift’s others had but they did not. However, Paul is laying out that these gifts must be secondary to our love for God and man. In fact, everything must be secondary to this type of love. “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13.
Any good thing we do or say must be instigated by love. It should never be done in order to build ourselves up. Jesus put it this way. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:1.
The important thing to keep in mind from our focus verse is that if we use a gift of the Holy Spirit, or give to the needy or feed the poor; essentially, if we do any good deed, do it out of love, not to just build ourselves up or show how great a Christian we are. Love must be the overarching reason we do anything for God. If it is not, then we may assist someone, but Jesus said, we will have no reward from our Father who is in heaven. Let love be the reason for everything we do.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.