But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. 1Corinthians 12:31
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. 1 Corinthians 13:13 (KJB)
The Corinthian Church was laden with Christians who were competing for who they considered the best preacher, teacher, and the best spiritual gifts. One gift in particular was one that was causing the greatest stir.
Corinth was a troubled Church. The apostle Paul sent this letter, because he was not able to come and see them. The purpose of the letter is to address and endeavor to correct the problems of jealousy, envy, immoral conduct, and selfishness.
The apostle had dealt with the issue of tongues. It was a sign gift, probably for the unbelieving Jews to see the Old Testament fulfillment, but they would not understand (Isaiah 28:11; 1 Corinthians 14:22). Now that I have dealt with that let us consider the best gifts.
The best gifts are those that edifies the Church. They build up, they encourage, they motivate the Church; and lead the Church in building up the name of Jesus Christ.
The greatest thing to have is love; it is the “more excellent way” as Paul describes godly love in chapter 13. Many people, Christian and non-christian knows of 1 Corinthians 13, but know little or nothing of the chapters preceding it, or the three chapters following.
Spiritual gifts are good, even great; but if you do not have love you are empty. The love spoken of by the apostle is not the feel good love many think of. It is love that acts when a wrong is witnessed, or a need is seen as one drives by a neighbor’s home, and you stop to help. It is the love that acts without thought of recovering the cost of the effort.
There is also faith and hope and love, Paul says, “but the greatest of these is love”.
Father in Heaven fill me with Your Spirit so that I might love like You do. That I might love my neighbor as I love myself.