Last week, I wrote about the implications of the first three words of verse 8: Love never fails. This week I am looking at the remainder of the chapter. People in the Corinthian church were at odds with each other. Some people were prophesying and others were speaking in tongues. Still others were wise teachers. Then there were the majority of the people who were gifted with ordinary gifts of administration, generosity, carpentry, cooking, sewing, farming… The people of the church were arguing over whose gift was better, more distinguished, more holy. Paul calls their dispute and attitudes childish. In essence he is saying “You are behaving like children! What you’re really saying is Dad (God) likes me best because he gave me the cooler toy (spiritual gift). Like children, you’re boasting: My gift is bigger and better than your gift. Stop whining and grow up.”
Yes, we are children of the Most High God, and at some point we need to grow past the immaturity of a child. Children often covet the privileges older siblings or adults – staying up late, having their own phone, driving a car, etc. But privilege is the flip side of responsibility and you can’t have one without the other. In the spiritual sense, faith, hope and love are the responsibility. The way in which God chooses to implement that in each of us is the flip side. These things that the Corinthians were obsessing over are temporary in nature—like everything in this imperfect world, here today and gone tomorrow. When Jesus comes again, there will be no need for prophecy or speaking the Good News in tongues. We will have a full understanding and unveiled vision of Jesus as he leads us into the new heaven and new earth where faith, hope and love will continue to be the essence of our relationship with God and with others.
So why is love the greatest of these three excellent gifts and responsibilities bestowed upon us by our Father in heaven? My guess is that faith may be able to move mountains, hope is confidence in the promise, but love is the power by which forgiveness, redemption, faith, and hope are born from.