When we think about using our Spiritual Gifts, one thing must be pre-eminent in everything we do, and that is love. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” (NASB 1995)
In his commentary on First Corinthians, J. Vernon McGee breaks down each verse. He explains verse one as, “Love gives meaning and depth and reality, and it makes eloquence meaningful…The most marvelous eloquence without love is nothing in the world but a noisy bell. The first verse was speaking of love as it comes from the heart.” So, if we have the Gift of speaking in tongues or have musical ability and we use these Gifts as motivation to bring attention to ourselves, not only does the glory NOT go to God, but we get our reward because people praise us. Our attitude is not one of love for the Brethren but selfish ambition.
He goes on to explain verse two, saying, “This is from the mind, love as an act of the intellect. Knowledge alone is not sufficient. Love must be added to that knowledge. Understanding alone is not enough. Love must be added to that understanding.” I have been in services where a Word of Knowledge was spoken over someone, and that person’s life was radically changed. The person who spoke over my friend did so in love. My friend had confirmation of what God had been speaking to her and God expanded her ministry and changed the direction of her ministry. She now has a wonderful ministry and God is blessing her. It has been so exciting to see where God has taken my friend. She is the happiest I’ve seen her since I’ve known her, and her congregation is truly blessed because she stepped out in faith, doing what God spoke to her through someone else.
J. Vernon McGee goes on to explain verse three as, “This love is an act of the will.” We must decide in our hearts to love. If we give money to feed the poor or donate clothing for the homeless, it must be done in love, we must decide to be loving. It is not so that people will say how wonderful we are because we give great sums of money to the poor, but we must operate from a heart of love.
Dr. McGee goes on to say, “Love involves the heart (verse 1), the mind (verse 2), and the will (verse 3). Love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Although we are to covet earnestly the best gifts, they are to be exercised in love—and only the Spirit of God can do that.”
When we have the Holy Spirit guiding us, and we listen to His leading, everything will be accomplished in an atmosphere of love for others, otherwise, it will be worthless in God’s economy. As the Apostle Paul says, “It profits me nothing.” We must seek to use the Giftings God has given to us from a heart of love. Only then can the Cause of Christ be advanced and will draw people to the true Source of Love. That is why love is so important in our service to Christ.