Last Sunday while we were in Florida for Thanksgiving, Norma Jean and I visited the SkyviewChurch in Pinellas Park. In the mid-1980’s we were a part of that church-Family. So, it was good to return and see old friends and enjoy fellowship.
For the past 28 years Charles Murray has preached for Skyview and now serves as one of their elders. He’s a good man. And a fine gospel preacher. I’ve been thinking about his sermon. It was Biblical. Practical. And relevant to the needs of our day. His text was 1 Cor 12:31-13:1.
But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 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 mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Murray observed that we often look for better ways of doing things in our daily lives. Better ways to live. Better methods. A better marriage. A better attitude. Yet, the Bible points us to not only a better way. Or the best way. But the most excellent way. The way of love.
Charlie made five points that serve as a stepping stone for today’s post.
#1 Love is More Important than Spiritual Gifts.
In the first century spiritual gifts were important. Very important. Vital to the work of the church and the spread of the Gospel. 1 Corinthians 12 lists 9 miraculous, spiritual gifts. Among them was the ability to prophesy, work miracles, and speak in different tongues.
Yet, Paul said that if he could speak in every language, yet lacked love, he was nothing! It is a reminder that our natural gifts, talents and abilities must be guided by love. Preaching, teaching, ministering to others, if not motivated by love, renders us as nothing.
#2 Love is More Important than Knowledge.
Knowledge is the basis for our obedience. Our commitment. Our service. Our worship. We are commanded to “grow in knowledge.”
Yet there is something more important. Love. If we’re not careful knowledge can massage our ego. Inflate us with pride. And fill us with self-righteousness. Paul warned, “knowledge puffs up, love builds up” (1 Cor. 8:1)
One can memorize the Bible from cover to cover. Answer every argument. And understand every difficult issue. But without love, you are nothing!
#3 Love is More Important than Faith.
Faith is necessary to know God. Please God. And be rewarded by God (Heb 11:6). A lack of faith was Israel’s “besetting sin.” Faith is the foundation of all other virtues.
However, even a monumental, miraculous, mountain-moving faith is futile if it’s not prompted by love
#4 Love is More Important than Generosity.
Selfishness may be of the greatest sins of our society. So many problems in our country, communities and families find their root in a selfish attitude. So, when we see unselfish generosity, we are impressed. Appreciative. Moved.
Yet, even the generosity that would give away everything one owns, if not motivated by sincere love is useless. The unloving giver is not “something,” he is “nothing”!
#5 Love is More Important than Accomplishments.
We recognize and honor credentials, accomplishments and achievements in our country. The military man who would sacrifice his life for his country is hailed as a hero.
But what about a person who would be martyred for the cause of Christ? Like John? Stephen? Or James? However, being burned at the stake for being a Christian, if not incited by love, leaves one as a nothing!
Let our love be more than words. Let us love in actions. Attitudes. And with a pure heart of sincere devotion.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman