Greater Gifts: Love

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There are countless songs, movies, novels, and poems that exalt love’s virtue. Perhaps, biblically, none are as famous as 1 Corinthians 13. It is often referred to as the love chapter and is regularly read at weddings. It is this latter practice that can bring confusion, as Paul’s poem seemingly has little to do with romance or marriage nuptials. Paul inserts this poem in the middle of his argument over the confusion that some spiritual gifts are more important than others. For Paul, love is the solution to the infighting in the church about who was more religiously superior. Instead of looking to prop up one’s self over another, look to the benefits of other is Paul’s advice. Don’t be envious or arrogant. Rather, be patient and kind. Put away childish ways. Seek the more excellent way. John Wesley, commenting on this passage in his sermon “On Zeal,” wrote, “But of all holy tempers [dispositions], and above all others, see that you be most zealous for love . . . O let this be deep engraven upon you heart: ‘All is nothing without love!’ . . . be most zealous of all for love, the queen of all graces, the highest perfection in heaven or earth, the very image of the invisible God, as in men below, so in angels above” (Sermon 92 “On Zeal,” The Works of John Wesley. Baker Books, 2007 Reprint. pp. 66-67).