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Love and Spiritual Gifts

“The gifts of the Spirit, wonderful as they are, are temporary and incomplete. They are for this age, while we are “children” (1 Corinthians 13:11). But love continues into the age to come: it is eternal, complete, and fulfilling.” (Orthodox Study Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:8-13)

“...spiritual gifts are not self-serving but serve the whole body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7); (2) each gift becomes practically useless when used without love (chapter 13).” (Life Application Study Bible, 1 Corinthians 12:11)

“Paul wrote previously about the miraculous supernatural gifts that the Corinthians were vying with one another to possess. He proclaimed that they were nothing without love. He noted that mystical knowledge, weighty prophecy, remarkable faith, generous charity, and even selfless martyrdom were useless without love. All these things and everything that believers may possess in this world will not last. We learn from our reading that love alone endures. It perseveres through good times or bad. It lives on from one generation to the next. It continues from age to age. The “more excellent way” of love’s mercy, compassion, kindness, longsuffering, goodness, and selflessness reigns in heaven and persists on earth…” (Fr. Basil)

“We tend to pursue and prioritize the temporary over the eternal. Have you ever noticed the exhilaration of your accomplishments and achievements fade over time to the point of being forgotten, even when they are an expression of your God given gifts and talents? Likewise, have you noticed that your love for your loved ones, whether they are alive or gone, does not fade, and may even intensify when they are physically absent? This speaks to the nature of what is temporary and finite versus what is eternal. It also speaks to what we should prioritize which is to love God and love others first as expressed in our actions of worship, prayer, care, and giving. When we do that, get things in the right priority order, it has been my experience that everything else in our life tends to fall into place, including the best opportunities to use our gifts and talents.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“The commandments to love God and neighbor are found in the law of Moses…In the new covenant Church of Christ, however, there is a “new commandment” (1 Jn 2.8)…The new element is that believers in Christ must love as Christ Himself loves. The new commandment is to love “as I have loved you.”…Christian love must be the perfect love of Christ Himself which is wholly divine. Christian love must be the totally self-emptying love of the Lord Himself. It must be the divine love of God the Father poured into men’s hearts by the very Spirit of God. It must be the love that is absolutely faithful, perfect, eternal and divine. Of all the men who ever lived on this earth, or whoever will live, only one has fully fulfilled the two great commandments of God; only one has lived absolutely and perfectly according to God’s laws; only one has loved the Father with all of His heart, mind, soul, and strength, and His neighbor as Himself. This is Jesus Christ, the child of Mary according to the flesh.” (Fr. Thomas Hopko)

“How do we know we are acting with love (1 Cor 13:4)? This passage gives specific characteristics of love: (1) it suffers long, is patient (1Th 5:14); (2) it is kind, gentle, especially with those who hurt (Eph 4:32); (3) it does not envy, is not jealous of what others have (Pr 23:17); (4) it does not parade itself, put itself on display (Jn 3:30); (5) it is not puffed up, arrogant, proud (Gal 6:3); (6) it does not act rudely, brashly, mean-spiritedly, insulting others (Ecc 5:2); (7) it does not seek its own way, act pushy (10:24); (8) it is not provoked or angered (Pr 19:11); (9) it thinks no evil, does not keep score on others (Heb 10:17); (10) it rejoices not in iniquity, takes no pleasure when others fall into sin (Mk 3:5); (11) it rejoices in the truth, is joyful when righteousness prevails (2 Jn 4); (12) it bears all things, handles the burdensome (Gal 6:2); (13) it believes all things, trusts in God no matter what (Pr 3:5); (14) it hopes all things, keeps looking up, does not despair (Php 3:13); (15) “it endures all things, “puts up with everything” (JohnChr), does not wear out (Gal 6:9); (16) it never fails. The only thing love cannot do is fail (16:14).” (Orthodox Study Bible,1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

“In 1 Corinthians 14:1 St. Paul writes (after his famous passage in 1 Corinthians 13 where he defines what love truly is) that we should “pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts.” A corresponding note to this passage in the Orthodox Study Bible emphasizes, “We are to desire or want the gifts of the Spirit, but pursue the love of God.” The order of Paul’s phrasing is important here. He tells us to first purse love. Spiritual gifts are only important in how we use them to love others. The love of God is what is most important. But it is hard to love as God loves unless we truly seek God and die to self so that we can suffer long and be patient on behalf of others, be humble, trust God in all things, and all of the other aspects of love Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians 13.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“Love comes from God (1 John 4:7). We’re not very good at this kind of loving, and the only way we can be is through the empowering work of the Holy Spirit…It is tough because it means dependency on God for that which we cannot do by ourselves. It is tough because the objects of our love often act in unlovable ways or they reject our love when we give it. It is tough because we have to keep coming back with more love, even when it is rejected…Love never fails (1 Cor 13:8). This uncompromising and bold affirmation introduces the contrast with the spiritual gifts which will not last. Paul wants the Corinthians to know that all the gifts would one day no longer be needed, but love.” (Foundation Study Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, 8)

“The appearance of spiritual love for one’s neighbor is a sign of the renewal of the soul by the Holy Spirit. The Theologian says again: ‘We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother, abides in death’ [I John 3:14]. The perfection of Christianity is contained in the perfect love of one’s neighbor.” (St. Ignatii Brianchaninov)

“Do not rejoice when others show you kindness and love—consider yourself unworthy of it; but rejoice when an occasion presents itself for you to show love. Show love simply, without any deviation into cunning thoughts, without any trivial, worldly, covetous calculations, remembering that love is God Himself. Remember that He sees all your ways, sees all the thoughts and movements of your heart.” (St. John of Kronstadt)

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