In chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians, Paul had discussed the use of spiritual gifts. He had pointed out that all the gifts had an important place to fill. Each person has different gifts and all of them together make the body complete. Yet there is a more excellent way. It includes something more basic than abilities or gifts. The excellent way is love! Without love, any gift becomes empty and valueless in God’s service. Tongue speaking played a vital role in the beginning of the church. It opened the door to preaching to multitudes on the day of Pentecost. It made it possible for each to hear in his own language (Acts 2). It evidenced the Gentiles reception of the same gift as the Jews (Acts 10). Tongue speaking is tied to the disciples receiving the Holy Spirit in Acts 19.

The Corinthian brethren became convinced that tongue speaking was the gift of greater importance than all the rest. Those who had the gift of speaking in languages they had never learned became proud and egotistical. Others envied them. Thus, the Holy Spirit, through Paul, sought to put gifts back into their proper place. Even if you could speak in every language of men and angels, without love it would be hollow and useless. Sound would come, but there would be no music or harmony.

Prophecy was actually a more important gift than the gift of tongues because it edified (1 Corinthians 13:1-13). It was a speaking forth of God’s revelation. It is still a gift today, but it is non-miraculous. It is a teacher who can take a difficult idea and make it simple, but that is not a miracle. If your heart is not filled with love you are still nothing in God’s view. Understanding had to do with the miraculous grasp of truth. This gift was tied closely to knowledge, but closer to what we would consider wisdom. Knowledge is knowing the truth. Understanding has to do with how that truthmay be applied in daily life. Both are valuable, but without love they are worthless. Faith here involved miraculous faith which was a gift from God. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). But even if you had the highest degree of faith so that you could move mountains, it would be of no value without love.

Giving is basic to Christianity (Acts 20:35; John 3:16). It shows our love (2 Corinthians 8:8). It is part of our worship (1 Corinthians 16:1, 2). But if love is not the motivation, the gift is empty. If a man gives something to his wife, but does not love her, his gift is worthless. The same is true with our giving to God. Even if Ananias and Sapphira had given all they had, it would not have been acceptable. They had the wrong motive. If we were to give ourselves as a burnt offering for the cause of Christ, without love it would be meaningless. One having love gives himself (John 15:13). It must be real love; no imitation will do. Love, then, lies at the very heart of being a Christian. There are no substitutes. Do you love God with all your being? (Mark 12:30).

Word Affirmation: “ For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee." - Isaiah 30:19 (Don't just say it, mean it!)

“ If love is not the motivation, the gift is empty. "