I’ve read 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:4-8 many times and honestly, I thought the greater gifts were the ones that everyone saw and gave praise to.
I’d like to share how the LORD used Aunt Cindy’s life and example to bring me a fresh revelation of His Word.
Interpretation of passage:
In 1 Corinthians 12 and 13, the Holy Spirit, through Paul, was teaching the Corinthians, in the most basic and childlike way, the true function of the whole Body of Christ, using an example that would be easy to understand: A Human Body. He knew that they [the Corinthians] would understand what it meant if the foot decided to stop working because it wasn’t adorned with rings like the hand – it would lose balance and fall over. Moreover, he made a point to mention that the “lower” and “more basic” the functions of the body, the more they should be looked upon with honor and care, for they are the basis by which the human body functions and thrives. If the head gives no concern to what is put in the mouth and goes into the stomach, the stomach will become sick. If done over time, eventually, the head too, will become sick. Therefore, Paul encourages the Corinthians to be passionate for the whole body by seeking to pursue those gifts that are greater: the lower to help the upper. Without administration, encouragement, giving, etc., the upper, or the head, which is the visible, will eventually fall apart and die off. But then he takes it one step further. LOVE. Love is the driving force behind any human being’s greatest passion. “Love is as strong as death, it’s jealousy is like the grave. Its flashes are like fire – the VERY flame of God!” (SS 8:6-7). The Holy Spirit exhorts the Corinthians, through Paul, to love with total abandon. With unadulterated love, the members of the Body will seek to fill in whatever place is needed at whatever time (i.e. “ready to serve at a moment’s notice).
My Personal Application
On Monday, as I began to read and really dig into this passage, I was drug through the refining gravel to begin scratching off many parasitic sins and blinders that I have been plagued with all my life. With each WORD, conviction and Godly sorrow began to consume me, and I just sat stunned. Each day, I wanted to avoid this passage. Each day, I came to it dragging my feet. How could I add up? Have I ever even loved at all? Have I ever even loved the whole Body of Christ that I was called to? I knew the answer to the latter was a definite no. Several years ago, “eagerly desiring the greater gifts” meant something completely different. Since my spiritual gifts are encouragement and giving, I sometimes complained to God that I didn’t have any of the “greater” gifts. With that, I also became increasingly unhappy within the four walls of a church. I am happy to say that my view of the four walls of the church and what are “greater” gifts do not mean the same thing to me as they once did. However, I still had to get past this aching in my stomach over this “Love Passage”. Barely awake this morning, the LORD began to clean off the rubble of His refining gravel. With my Aunt Cindy as His example, He revealed the healthy functioning of the Body of Christ. Whether it was not eating right or just not caring for her body (though she was really healthy), a tumor developed in her head. She lost function of her right arm. Removing the tumor caused the loss of function of her right side. Each month her MRI was clear, even though there were these “shadows”. But the doctors assured us that they were not tumors (I liked to say “rumors” for this example). On Mother’s Day this year she could no longer speak. On July 31st she could no longer swallow, so she was admitted to MD Anderson on August 1st, her 59th birthday. On August 3rd we were given the news that we had suspected all along: those “shadows” were tumors growing in her lower brain. She was terminal. Slowly, her body shut down, and she passed into glory on August 20th. For twenty days, her husband, four children and spouses, two grandkids, her two siblings (my dad), and myself, stayed in a tiny room at MD Anderson, watching, praying, hoping, trusting, and loving. When the “Complete” had come to take her home, all the gifts that she had used to build up her husband, her children, her whole family, and the Body of Christ had ceased. But one thing remained: LOVE. Because of her “living life with love’s deadliest passion”, she was truly loved by so many. She was honored by so many, cherished by so many, and mourned for by so many. And I knew that looking forward, I wanted to live with love like that! So as Daddy wiped off the last bit of gravel, he showed me 1 Cor. 13:4-8 the way I needed to see it – as HIS LOVE. His love for me is all those things and more, and the more I accept it from Him, the more I will become like Him and love like Him: with Love’s deadliest passion.”
There’s a Silver Lining in Everything,