By Pr Herna Kong
Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way (1 Cor. 12:31).
… but do not have love, I am nothing (1 Cor. 13:2).
Love is a fruit of the Spirit that every believer must possess. Why? “… for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). The apostle Paul states that love is greater than faith and hope (1 Cor. 13:13) because one day we will not have the need for faith and hope anymore, as our faith will become sight, and our hope will be realised when we see our Saviour face-to-face, but on the other hand, love remains, as it is eternal.
Having said that, generally, human love is based on certain interests. Most of us will love those who love us, those who show affection to us or those who benefit us. Love is dispensed with a selfish motive. Such love is rooted in egoism, and depends on the circumstances or feelings. Jesus says, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that” (Luke 6:32-33).
It is hard to find true, sincere and pure human love. Being selfish, we do not love one another, though from the bottom of our hearts, we have the need to be loved and to love. That is the reason Paul paused right in the middle of a section about spiritual gifts to say that even if we have gifts of service, speech, and self-sacrifice but do not have love, we are nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3), and we will have missed the “most excellent way” (12:31). Without love, we will not be able to exercise our spiritual gift(s) in a way that is building others up or edifying others. No gift is worth anything if its use is not motivated by love. For this reason, Jesus willingly came to earth and died on the cross so that God’s love can be revealed to us, and poured out into our hearts (Rom. 5:5).
Why do we not pursue love then, rather than pursue showy gift(s)?
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away (1 Cor. 13:8).