1.0 Love & Spiritual Gifts
The Church of Jesus Christ needs both the “Fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23) and the “Gifts of the Holy Spirit” (1Corinthians 12:8-10). It is not either or, but both. Arguably, the Church at Corinth was the most Anointed Church in the New Testament – the Church flowed in God’s Power – with “Spiritual-Gifts” (1Corinthians chapters 12 to 14); but the Church was also “loaded” with issues – Carnality (1Corinthians 3:1-4); Exalting one Person above the others (1Corinthians 1:12); etc., Apostle Paul advocated that “Spiritual Gifts” (1Corinthians chapters 12 & 14) should be balanced by God’s Love (1Corinthians chapter 13) – 1Corinthians 12:8-10 lists the “Spiritual Gifts;” 1Corinthians 13 teaches on God’s Love (16 Characteristics); 1Corinthians 14 teaches on the Operation of the “Spiritual Gifts.” – The understanding of the relationship is summed up in 1Corinthians 13:2“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove the mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” Operating “Spiritual Gifts” without God’s Love opens it to misuse and abuse – it will not edify or have their full effect. God’s Love gives “Spiritual Gifts” the proper “foundation” to minister God’s Grace to others. To avoid misuse and abuse of “Spiritual Gifts,” the Person/Church must learn to submit to God’s Written Word (Logos) and operates out of God’s Love.
On the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), the Covenantal Relationship of the Members of the Body of Christ was established in the Apostolic Teaching (Acts 2:42-47). The “bed-rock” of God’s Habitation is Covenantal Relationship in “the Bond of Love” (Psalm 133); without which Revival will not last.
The Church has been seeking Revival but lost the “spirit of repentance;” and without repentance, the Individual/Church will not be able to grow into Christlikeness (2Corinthians 3:18). 1Corinthians 12:7 states that the Operation of “Spiritual Gifts” is for the common good – 1Corinthians 12:7 (NKJV) “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all (“common-good” – NIV).” – God gives “Spiritual Gifts” to an Individual/Church as “tools” to manifest forth His Love (1Corinthians 13) – the Individual/Church flows in God’s Nature and Character, strengthening Christ’s Body, the Local Church.
The Local Church is always in God’s Plan – “I will build My Church” (Matthew 16:18); and every Member of the Body of Christ is to be connected (Ephesians 4:16); for God’s Plan and Purpose to be effective in the Local Church, there need to be the Operation of “Spiritual Gifts” – 1Corinthians 12:7, 11 (NKJV) “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all……But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”
However, the Individual/Church needs to be “soaked” in God’s Love (1Corinthians 13), to receive God’s Presence and Power in the Operation of the “Spiritual-Gifts” (1Corinthians chapter 12 & 14); – and using “Spiritual Gifts” with God’s Love (1Corinthians 13) to minister God’s Power to the World – revealing the Father’s Heart! God’s Love (1Corinthians 13) gives true value to “Spiritual Gifts” (1Corinthians Chapters 12 & 14). In any discussion on “Spiritual Gifts,” due consideration should be given to the teaching of God’s Love of 1Corinthians 13.
1.1 The Placing
The “Teaching on Love” in 1Corinthians 13 is sandwiched between the most extensive teaching on “Spiritual Gifts” (1Corinthians Chapter 12) and the Operation of “Spiritual Gifts” (1Corinthians Chapter 14). The “Love-Chapter” of 1Corinthians 13 is frequently spoken at Wedding, which is acceptable, but is not the intention of Apostle Paul – In the original text, there was no “chapters-separation,” but a continuous flow of thoughts and teaching of Paul on “Spiritual-Gifts” and their Operations. 1Corinthians 13:4-8 gives one of the best definitions of Love in God’s Word, involving16 Characteristics:
- Love suffers long (endures long, is patient).
- Love is kind.
- Love does not envy (is not jealous).
- Love does not parade itself (does not brag; does not boast).
- Love is not puffed up (not proud, vainglorious, arrogant, prideful)
- Love does not behave rudely (not rude, unbecomingly, indecently, unmannerly).
- Love does not seek its own (is not selfish, or self-seeking; foes not insist on one’s own right and way).
- Love is not provoked (not touchy, angry, fretful, and resentful).
- Love thinks no evil (harbors and plan no evil thought; takes no account of a wrong done it).
- Love does not rejoice in iniquity (lawlessness, wrong, sin, evil, injustice),
- Love rejoices in the truth (justice and righteousness).
- Love bears all things (Love protects).
- Love believes in all things (exercises faith in everything; is ready to believe the best in everyone).
- Love hopes for all things (keep up hope in everything under all circumstances).
- Love endures all things (without weakening; it gives power to endure).
- Love never fails.
In 1Corinthians 13:1-3, Paul teaches that the “Spiritual Gifts” (Tongues, Prophecy and Knowledge) and character traits (Faith to move mountains, the sacrificial spirit that would prompt the Person to give his goods to the poor, the courage that enables the Person to be a Martyr to endure the flames) are not insignificant or commonplace; yet, Apostle Paul does not say once but three times that it is love that gives value to “Spiritual Gifts (Tongues, Prophecy, and Knowledge), spirit of sacrifice (Faith, Zeal and Courage). If not, all are nothing and we have accomplished nothing – 1Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV) “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have no love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flame, but have not love, I am nothing.”
1Corinthians 13:4-8, each description of God’s Love is in the Arena of interpersonal relationship. We would have expected from the larger context that Paul would want to instruct us on how to Prophesy in Love; how to Exercise Faith in Love; and how to give sacrificially in Love; how to lay down our life in Love; but he does not do that. Instead, he teaches about exercising Patience and being Kind to one another; he teaches about Love, elimination of envy, boasting, rudeness and selfishness; he teaches that Love is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs; Paul has thus passed from the teaching of “Spiritual Gifts” (1Corinthians 12) to the Arena of Relationship.
1.4 Love Lived Out
What is Paul teaching us through this subtle change from “Spiritual Gifts” (1Corinthians 12) to God’s Love in 1Corinthians 13? Just this: “Love must permeate and govern every aspect of our lives.” Love is not to be exercised only in the use of “Spiritual Gifts,” but God’s Love gives value to “Spiritual Gifts:”
- Love enables us to share together our life in Jesus Christ (1Corinthians 13).
- Love is the cement that binds us, the “Living Stones,” together that is being built into God’s Spiritual House (1Peter 2:5).
- Love is the ligament that binds the Members into one Body (Ephesians 4:16).
- Love gives Unity to the Body and makes the functioning of “Spiritual Gifts” effective (Ephesians 4:16).
1.5 The Balance
The “Fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23) is Eternal (“abides” – 1Corinthians 13:13); whereas the “Gifts of the Spirit” (1Corinthians 12 & 14) is temporal (“vanished away” – 1Corinthians 13:8). “Spiritual Gifts” is Ministry-Oriented, whereas “Fruit of the Spirit” is God-Oriented. Also, the “Fruit of the Spirit” accompanies all the four passages on “Spiritual-Gifts:”
- 1Corinthians 13- “The Love Chapter” – is sandwiched between the “Gifts of the Spirit” in 1Corinthians 12:8-10 and the Operations of the “Gifts of the Spirit” in 1Corinthians chapter 14.
- The “Gifts of the Spirit” in Romans 12:6-8 is followed by the exhortation on Love – “Let love be without hypocrisy” and “be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love” (Romans 12:9-10). The passage on “Fruit of Love” continues for another 11 verses (Romans 12:11-21).
- The teaching of the “Gifts of Christ” in Ephesians 4:11-16 is followed by the “Fruit of Love” Ephesians 4:17 and continued to Ephesians 5:2 “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
- The “Fruit of Love” in 1Peter 4:8 precedes the “Spiritual Gifts” of 1Peter 4:10-11 – “Above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins’”
The Church at Corinth, although is, “a messy-Church,” but yet has an ideal Spiritual Gift-Mix – “You come short in no gift” (1Corinthians 1:7) and the “Nine-Gifts of the Spirit” (1Corinthians 12:8-10), with the Operation of the “Gifts of the Spirit” (1Corinthians chapter 14); sandwiched is the teaching of “God’s Love” (1Corinthians chapter 13) – Thus, the “Fruit of the Spirit” is the Indispensable Foundation for the effective use of the “Gifts of the Spirit” in any Church, even the messy ones! Therefore, any teaching of “Gifts of the Spirit” (Romans 12:3-8; 1Corinthians 12 to 14; 1Peter 4:10-11) and the “Gifts of Christ” (Ephesians 4:7-16), must include the teaching of God’s Love of 1Corinthians chapter 13. Most people agreed on the need of balance between “Spiritual Gifts” (1Corinthians chapters 12 & 14) and “God’s Love” (1Corinthians chapter 13); however, few practice it. Most of the Discipleship Training, whether in the Local Churches or Para-Organizations, emphasizes on ministry skills without much consideration of the development of “Fruit of the Spirit” (God’s Love – our Character).
1.6 Love and Discernment
1Corinthians 14:1 (NIV) “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire Spiritual Gifts, especially the Gift of Prophecy” – I believe that the Prophetic Person effectiveness in discernment and accuracy in the Prophetic Word (“Rhema”) is directly proportion to the way he “follows the Way of Love” (1Corinthians 14:1; 1Corinthians 13:4-8a) – the Prophetic Person may be able to see some effectiveness in his discernment and Prophetic Word (“Rhema”); but ultimately he is limited in the Anointing, if he does not “Follow the way of Agape-Love” (1Corinthians 14:1; 1Corinthians 13:4-8a) and grows into it – he will level off and missed God’s Heart-beats.
1.7 Book of Galatians
God’s Love (Agape) is also taught in the Book of Galatians in the form of “the Fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23), of which most teaches on Character Traits, which is not wrong but incomplete. The passage starts with Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is Love…….;” it is “the Fruit” (singular) as affirmed in the original text; Love is “the Fruit” of the Spirit; the “Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control,” are the description and expansion of the “the Fruit” (singular) of the Spirit, which is Love; in other words, “Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control” are the outworking of the “God’s (Agape) Love” of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), in the Life-of-the-Believer.
“God’s Love (Agape)” is not a weak notion of feeling; God’s Love (Agape) is the choice God made on our behalf (John 3:16); Believer is to Walk in the Life-style of Love:
- 1Thessalonians 5:8 (NKJV) “But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.”
- 1Timothy 6:11 (NKJV) “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.”
- 2Timothy 2:22 (NKJV) “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
The demonstration of God’s Love (Agape) is expected of us; not as a single act, but as a life-style; it is seen in our words, attitudes, and actions as shown in the following Scripture:
- 2John 1:6b (NIV) “As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you walk in love.”
- Ephesians 5:2 (NIV) “Live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
- Jude 21b (NIV) “Keep yourselves in God’s love.”
- 1Corinthians 16:14 (NKJV) “Let all that you do be done with love.”
As in 1Corinthians 13:6b, “Love keeps no record of wrongs” because “love covers over a multitude of sins” (1Peter 4:8b, NIV); we are called to love each other deeply (1Peter 4:8a, NIV). Confrontation, in the “midst-of-wrongs,” must be “spoken in love” (Ephesians 4:15a); Truth, must not be spoken as validation, but out of the Heart of Love – Ephesians 4:15a “Speaking the truth in love.” God’s Love (Agape), in Scripture, is put in the chief place above all other Virtues – Colossians 3:12, 14 “Therefore, as the Elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;…….But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” (NKJV). God’s Love (Agape) is of the utmost importance; it is sandwiched between the “Gifts of the Spirit” (1Corinthians chapter 12) and the Operation of the “Gifts of the Spirit” (1Corinthians chapter 14). Love is “the glue” that holds the balance of the “Spiritual-Gifts” and the Operation of the “Spiritual Gifts.” We already have “a measure of God’s Love (Agape)” sheds in our heart by God’s Spirit (Romans 5:5); and as we continue this exercise of God’s Love (Agape),” for God and for others and for ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40), we will progressively grow into it, how?
1.9 Greater than Fear & Death
– Love is greater than fear and death – Song of Solomon 8:6 states that “Love is as strong as death” and 1John 4:18 states: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment; but he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” (NKJV). God’s Love (Agape) is literally “the Force” in the spiritual realm and it is as strong as death and perfect love casts out fear.
1.10 Love & Faith
does not function effectively without love – “Faith works through love” (Galatians 5:6b, NKJV); further, God’s Love is greater than Faith – 1Corinthians 13:13 (NIV) “And now these three remain: Faith, Hope and Love. But the greatest of these is Love;” an amazing statement. Love has a greater Power (Force), in the spiritual realm, than Faith; but most Christians pursue Faith to an ultimate end. I believe, that as the release of the Prophetic Understanding and Anointing increases; there is a corresponding release of the Revelation and the Experience of “God’s Love (Agape)” in the Church of Jesus Christ of 1Corinthians 13. Ephesians 3:17b-19 (NIV) “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Only the Individual/Church, being firmly rooted in “God’s Love (Agape),” be able to be filled with all “the Fullness of God;” Ephesians 3, affirms: “The love of Christ…….surpasses knowledge” – “being filled with the fullness of God” is to receive the “Fullness of the Lord Jesus Christ” because “God was pleased to have all His Fullness dwell in Him (Jesus)” (Colossians 1:19, NIV).