1 Corinthians 13:1

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.

1 Corinthians 13:8

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Corinthians 13:8 

“Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.” – 1 Corinthians 13:8

Now that Paul has completed his picture of what love truly is, he now moves on to the permanence of this true love.  And he begins by saying that love never fails.  The idea in the Greek is that it will never come to an end; it will never pass away. In fact. the very essence of God is love.   “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8.  God is love.  John also said here that if we do not love, then we cannot know God, for He is love.  And because God is eternal, love is eternal.  “Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” Psalm 90:2  The phrase “from everlasting to everlasting” is saying from eternity past to eternity future.  So, love has always been and will always be because God has always been and always will be.

Now, in contrast to love, prophesies will fail.  Whether the word implies predicting future events or teaching the truth of Christianity that God has given to us,  they shall all be done away with.  Though the accurate prophecies and gifted teachings are useful today, they will be of no use in the eternal kingdom of God.  And the same can be said for the gift of tongues.  They have a good use today, for example Acts 2 and the day of Pentecost.  However, as with tongues, they will also cease.  And the last thing he brings up is knowledge.  There are some who believe this refers to human knowledge of the arts, sciences and all human knowledge in this world.  And there is some credibility in this interpretation.  However, since the first two attributes mentioned are spiritual gifts, I tend to think this refers to the gift of knowledge found earlier in this epistle.  “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit;”  1 Corinthians 12:7-8.  This gift refers to knowledge of the scriptures as well as knowledge of the things of this age.  Both of these were given by the Holy Spirit to certain individuals to aid in our going into all the world to spread the good news.  However, once we enter the eternal realm there will be no use for these either. 

He then completes this idea with the following.  “For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.”  1 Corinthians 13:9-10.  What we know, we only know  in part.  What we have now is but little knowledge even of earthly, and much less of heavenly things.  Even the prophets have been able to share only a small amount of what is to come.  But when He returns, and we enter the heavenly realm the partial knowledge goes away.  “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12.

Even though much of what we experience in this life will go away, such as prophesy, tongues, earthly knowledge, and the other spiritual gifts, love will remain forever.  It will become perfect and will never go away.  This is what we have to look forward to upon His return.  Perfect love with an eternal existence.  What could be better and more beautiful?

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.