The Most Excellent Way
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
If God could be described in one word, “love” would fit the bill. The world defines this term in conflicting ways. But for believers, understanding begins with the Lord Himself, and in particular the usage of the Greek form agape, meaning His unconditional love. On the surface, such selfless devotion appears to be humanly impossible, and yet Jesus commands us to love each other in this way. However, we’re promised that none of God’s commandments are “burdensome,” because the Holy Spirit enables us to live beyond our natural abilities (1 John 5:2-4). In essence, this passage reveals the true Spirit-filled life.
Take time to think about the following questions, and write down your answers.
- Clearly, love is more important to God than anything (13:13). Why do you think it’s so easy to elevate other spiritual qualities and forget about love?
- What traits in the passage—positive and negative—do you recognize in your own life? Ask the Lord to empower you in each area.
Reflect on each part of the reading, and consider the implications of Paul’s teaching to the Corinthians. Then, for more in-depth study, explore the following thoughts and supporting Scripture passages.
- You could be a well-respected church leader, prophet, Bible scholar, prayer warrior, philanthropist, or miracle worker. But if you don’t love, the work done in these roles won’t bring you closer to God (1 Cor. 13:1; James 1:22-27).
- Jesus personified love, so it’s impossible to truly follow Him without loving others (John 13:34-35; 1 John 4:7-12).
- To genuinely love is to be other-centered and motivated by Christ alone—possible only when you’re filled with His Spirit (1 John 4:13-21; Rom. 12:9-10).
- Many impressive spiritual things that we strive for are relatively minor in God’s eyes. But the impact of love is eternal, because it bears the Holy Spirit’s power (Phil. 3:7-11; Eph. 3:16-21).
- It’s impossible to mature spiritually without love. You may appear to be wise—perhaps even someone who knows the Bible inside out—but only love moves us away from self-centered thinking and into deep relationship with the Lord (Eph. 4:14-16).
- To walk in the way of love is to move closer to our true home. A life of love prepares us for our eternal calling (Col. 1:3-6; Jude 1:20-21).
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