Chip Stapleton Highland Presbyterian Church March 27th, 2020 Hunkered Down Devotions
1 Corinthians 12:27-13:3 The Voice (VOICE)
27 You are the body of the Anointed, the Liberating King; each and every one of you is a vital member. 28 God has appointed gifts in the assembly: first emissaries,[a] second prophets, third teachers, then miracle workers, healers, helpers, administrators, and then those who speak with various unknown languages. 29 Are all members gifted as emissaries? Are all gifted with prophetic utterance? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Or are all gifted in healing arts? Do all speak or interpret unknown languages? Of course not. 31 Pursue the greater gifts, and let me tell you of a more excellent way—love.
13 What if I speak in the most elegant languages of people or in the exotic languages of the heavenly messengers, but I live without love? Well then, anything I say is like the clanging of brass or a crashing cymbal. 2 What if I have the gift of prophecy, am blessed with knowledge and insight to all the mysteries, or what if my faith is strong enough to scoop a mountain from its bedrock, yet I live without love? If so, I am nothing. 3 I could give all that I have to feed the poor, I could surrender my body to be burned as a martyr, but if I do not live in love, I gain nothing by my selfless acts.
The 13th chapter of 1Corinthians is, perhaps, the most famous chapter of scripture in the world. Almost anyone who has ever been to a wedding has likely heard most of that chapter, and it is often referenced when discussing the nature of love.
Our lectionary passage for today, begins in the 12th chapter and ends in the 13th, bridging a discussion about the different gifts of the Spirit and Paul’s discourse on love. What is interesting is that in chapter 14, Paul goes right back to talking about these spiritual gifts.
While it may, at first, seem like Paul got distracted or went off on a tangent about love, I think the truth is much different. Paul inserts this section about love and it’s central role in the lives of those of us that seek to follow Jesus because it is vital that we don’t ever lose sight of just how important love is.
Paul knows, maybe from his own experience, that we are never more susceptible to letting go of love, than when we are talking about the gifts and abilities that we have. When we start thinking about the things we are good at, the gifts we have, what we are able to do – it is easy to start to think that these things are what is important. It is easy to believe that it is in what we have or what we can do that we find our value.
But that is not the gospel we believe in and that is not the message that Jesus came to bring. Our value, our worth is found first and foremost in the love that Jesus has for us. So that means that love has to be central to who we are and what we do as Christians.
Paul wants to remind all of us - members of the body of Christ – that even though we are very different, even if we have little in common, we are all united and connected – we are all part of the same family because of the love that comes from our God and that flows from our lives when we offer them up to God.
As Paul says, ‘if I do not live in love, I gain nothing.’ A good reminder for us now and always.
Sharing God’s Love,
Prayer: Lord, remind us that we do not derive our worth from what we can do or what we have, but from the love that you have already given us. Help us to respond to your gracious and unending love, by sharing it with all those around us. Amen.