The Study of Spiritual Gifts (Sermon 6 of 14)
October 07, 2001 | Andy Davis
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Andy Davis preaches a verse-by-verse expository sermon that focuses on spiritual gifts, as seen in 1 Corinthians 13.
- SERMON TRANSCRIPT -
Look if you will, to 1 Corinthians chapter 12. We're going to be just spending a little time in 1 Corinthians 12 because I just think it's timely for us to look at chapter 13 tonight. So I'm going to get ahead of myself a little bit. We're going to go back, I think, God willing in the future and do a little more detailed work on chapter 12. But I think it's important for us together to consider chapter 13 and therefore we're going to do that tonight.
Now, we've been looking at the topic of spiritual gifts for a while and any of you that were there this morning heard just the consistency of Scripture, didn't you? When it says in Revelation 19 that the bride has made herself ready. And I think that's so beautiful, isn't it? How the bride is involved, namely the church of Jesus Christ is involved in building herself up and that's consistent with what we've been learning, isn't it? From spiritual gifts. It's only as each part does its work that the body of Christ is built up to full maturity. And so God has assigned to each one of us who are a part of the body of Jesus Christ a significant role. And therefore, if any part of the body does not do its work, the whole body suffers. Maturity is retarded. We are not able to get to full maturity the way we should. If the teachers don't teach, if the encouragers don't encourage, if the givers don't give, if those with the gifts of faith don't use their gift, the body is hindered, it's held back and can't grow to full maturity.
Conversely, speaking positively, if each part does do its work, the body grows up beautifully into maturity and many things are done. The church accelerates in its mission. The church is able to reach out boldly. We see people coming to Christ. We see those who are already committed to Christ growing up themselves into maturity in Christ and that at a rapid rate if the church is healthy. And so the topic of spiritual gifts is very important. And each one of you who are called by the name of Christ, who call yourselves Christians, all of you who are redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, you all have a role to play. It says later in our chapter here in 1 Corinthians 12:27, "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." So you all have a part to play. You're all part of the body of Christ. And so we must do our ministry, we must do our part.
And so Paul in chapter 12 is working and laboring specifically that each part would do its work. And so he is getting into the minds of the Corinthians and helping them to think properly about spiritual gifts, because the gifts are not all the same. And the way it works it seems in this world is that some honor and some prestige and some worldly benefits are given to those with some gifts and not to others. And whether that's right or wrong, it just happens. And so what ends up happening is some people are jealous of that and desire a different gift package, let's say. Others might take that gift and despise others in the body and say, "I don't need you, I have no need for you," et cetera. So we've got problems from both sides, don't we?
And so in 1 Corinthians 12:14-20, he's dealing with the idea that a part of the body would say, “Because I don't have this other gift, I'm not really part of the body. I'm not important, I'm not included, I'm inferior,” perhaps. And so they would exclude themselves. And what happens then is they don't do their gift. And if they don't do their gift, what happens to the body? Yeah, it suffers. It can't grow to maturity. Each part must do its work. So we've got that problem on the one side where people look at themselves and compare themselves to others and say, "Because I don't have that gift, because I don't have that special ability, I'm not really, therefore part of the body". And so there's a great hindrance there. Those people with those gifts don't use those gifts. And really ironically, it could be any gift that you have. You could look at yourself and say, "It's not important. What I give is not important." And so then you hold back. So that's what we get from 14-20.
And then in 21 and following, we get the idea on the other side where the eye is saying to the hand, "I don't need you, I'm self-sufficient.” A self-sufficient eyeball. What a thing? Can you imagine a self-sufficient eyeball? It's impossible. It needs the flow of blood and oxygen to keep it alive. It needs nourishment. Where does all that come? Well, from the lungs and the stomach. And where do the lungs and the stomach get... The legs have to carry to get the food and the... I mean it's all got to work together, right? And so it's absolutely almost ludicrous to think of one part of the body being self-sufficient. And yet how ironic is it that people are at these kind of attitudes? If we have this body analogy, this image of the body, we can see how foolish and how ludicrous divisions in the body are.
The other day I was walking, I don't remember where I was, but I had a lot of stuff that I was carrying, a bunch of stuff. And one of my arms for some reason was just weak that day. It was my left arm and it just wasn't doing well. And so my brain told my left arm to shift everything, all of it over to the right arm. And so the right arm, poor thing, had to carry everything, but the right arm didn't complain at all against the left arm. It's not in the right arm or left arm to complain. It's actually ludicrous. My arms don't have the capacity for complaining. It's only my brain that has the capacity for complaining together with my mouth. The two work together in conjunction in this complaining thing. But do you see the analogy? The left arm was weak at that point and needed help in order to oblige under the headship of the head. The head ordered, and so it was. Why doesn't the body function that way? Why is it that we are not in unity and in harmony and each part doing its role the way it should be? That's the very thing that Paul's addressing here in the Corinthian church. And then is it amazing after two millennia that we're still the same? We say that God never changes and he never does, but do we really change? We're still the same people. We're the Corinthians, aren't we? We're the same. And so we're wrestling with the same things and we're trying to see the integration, the unity, the beautiful harmony of the body and each part doing its work. And so he's addressing that.
Let's look a little carefully at 14-20 and just read through it. It says,
Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
So you see the analogy. He's speaking in analogous terms here. In one sense, we're not truly a body, are we? Spiritually we are, but we are individuals and we have an individual role. And so the idea of my left hand arguing with my right hand, whatever, would never happen. But he's speaking as an analogy and he's saying in that way, the way that God has arranged and gifted the body, it's done in a marvelous way with wisdom and purpose so that each part is arranged just as God wanted them to be. And so if we murmur against God, if we say, "I wish I had the other gift package, I wish I had these other gifts." We're really murmuring against a wise and loving God who has arranged the body so marvelously. Conversely, as we're going to see in a minute, if we boast over other parts of the body and say, “Because I have this gift and you don't, or I have this and you have a lesser gift, you are not worth as much in the body.” We are again murmuring against God who has arranged the body just as he wanted it to be.
Now he says, "If the foot should say, 'Because I'm not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.” What he's saying is it doesn't make any sense to say, "If I don't have this gift, I am not part of the body." It would not at all for that reason cease to be part of the body. Actually quite the opposite is true, because the member is gifted by God there's clear evidence that he's part of the body because the Spirit is working in that individual. So he's actually turning the whole thing around. It would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And he says the same thing again, "If the ears should say, 'Because I'm not an eye, I do not belong to that body,' it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.” And then he goes on into the capabilities. He says, "If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be or the sense of smell?" We would lose something that we need. We need the sense of hearing, we need the sense of sight, we need the sense of smell. We need it all, and so it is also with spiritual gifts. Are there any redundant or extra gifts? Not at all. Why would God give them if they were unnecessary? Well, here's the grief. If spiritually gifted people do not use their gifts, then we're missing whole capabilities, aren't we? There's just whole aspects of the body that aren't functioning. And I believe that most churches are hampered that way. And so we've got to heed 1 Corinthians 12 and say, "Okay, I need to use my gifts. Regardless of where I see myself in the body, I need to be faithful to use my gifts so that the body can be built up." We need all of the capabilities or else the body can't be fully built up.
And then in verse 18, as we already said, "In fact God has arranged the parts of the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be." I don't know how many times in all the gift passages that he says the same thing. It's the Spirit. It's Jesus Christ who apportions. It's the Spirit who gives as he wills. The body's arranged just as he wants it to be. Do you see the recurring theme? What he is saying is that this is God who has done this. Who are we to question? Who are we to challenge? We should accept these roles, this place in the body and realize that it's all done beautifully and that when all of these things are finished, the bride will have made herself ready. She'll be finished, she'll be ready for the wedding day. And then I believe all of those capabilities will be gone. And we're going to see that in 1 Corinthians 13. These are temporary. We won't need them in heaven. It's only for the building up of the body. And once the body is complete and built up, they are no longer needed anymore. And I think that's marvelous.
"This is God who has done this. Who are we to question? Who are we to challenge? We should accept these roles, this place in the body and realize that it's all done beautifully."
Now in verse 21 and following, he gets to the other side. This is the boasting side. Whereas verses 14-20, we have the overly humble side in which you're saying, "Gee, I'm not part of the body if I don't have these gifts." Now we've got the overly prideful side.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don't need you.” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don't need you.” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable. And the parts that we think are less honorable, we treat with special honor and that parts that are un-presentable are treated with special modesty. While our presentable parts need no special treatment, but God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for one another. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now what he's saying here is that there are no self-sufficient parts of the body. Every one of you can say to every other one of you, "I really need you. I really do. I need you or else I will not be fully mature." Isn't that humbling to say that? But it is true, isn't it? If what we're getting at here is true, we can extend it really to that level. Any individual Christian can say to any other individual Christian, "I need you. I need what you bring to the body. I receive benefit from your spiritual gifts." And we all do need that. You take the gift of encouragement, for example. Some of you, I think we all should encourage and build each other up. But some of you just really have that gift, don't you? And we all receive benefit. How long could you go without a word of encouragement in Christian life? Think about that. Some of you shorter time than others, some of you are real tough, you're like camels, able to go through the desert long period of time and you just don't need a word of encouragement. But think about it honestly, how long could you really go if nobody ever said anything to you by way of encouragement in terms of what you bring to the body of Christ? And so how vital is that? And really, that's just one gift. We could also say the same about all the gifts. And so we could and actually should be saying to each other, "I need you." But what do we have here in the text? The eye saying to the hand, "I don't need you." What is that? Well, it's called sin. It's called selfishness and sin where one part of the body can say to the other, "I don't need you." It's not true at all. We really do need each other absolutely, indispensable to one another.
And then he goes on talking about these parts of the body that are weaker or un-presentable. And what he's getting at here is the fact that I talked about earlier, that the parts of the body don't seem to be treated equally, do they? You treat some parts of your body differently than others, right? You treat your face different than your stomach. Most of you have covered your stomach tonight. They are un-presentable, I guess, or even other parts of the body. They're un-presentable. And so we cover them with clothing. But other parts of the body like hair, well, some of you do things with your hair and others don't, but you do something to present yourself. But some parts of your body, you don't do anything to. Do you do anything to your ears? Maybe you do, I don't know. Maybe you clean them. Some ladies put the earrings in. But man, I don't do anything with my ears. I just leave them as they are. My nose, it's just the way it is. My cheeks, they're just as they are. But what is he saying? He's saying that not every part gets the same stuff in this world. And that's a challenge to people, isn't it? There are some ministries that are kind of more openly demonstrable and then there are others that you never see them. You never do. Take for example, intercessory prayer. If you follow what Jesus says in terms of the Sermon of the Mount, "You're going to go into your room, you're going to close the door, and you're going to pray to your Father who's unseen. And your Father who sees what has done in secret will reward you." Right? So I guess if you're doing it right, nobody ever know what you did. And yet how vital is that intercessory prayer ministry? No one will ever know what you did, and yet God sees and God answers the prayer. And the prayers of the righteous are going up to him ascending like bowls of incense constantly and God is responding, he's answering, but nobody ever knows it. And nobody's ever going to give a plaque or an honor or something like that or most hours spent in intercessory prayer. You don't want to get that plaque. Jesus already said, don't go for that plaque. You have received your award in full. I don't want it in full. I don't want anybody to know about it. You see what I'm saying? So there are going to be some ministries that some people will never know about. Some of you give financially that way. You give in such a way that nobody knows about it.
And then there are other ministries that are very clearly demonstrable and they almost have to be that way. And certain honor seems to be given to that. What does it mean? It really means nothing. What really, ultimately means something is the credit and the honor given by the judge on that final day. Is that not what really matters? "Well done good and faithful servant. I saw what you did. Here's your reward." Isn't that what really matters? All the other things, they don't matter. They're a form of encouragement. I think we should encourage one another, but it's a stumbling block for people. And so there's this tendency on the one side to look at those gifts and say, "I wish I had them. I don't, so I'm not going to use my gift." And then on the other side to say, "I do have those clearly visible gifts and therefore I don't need you." And so he is saying, "Don't do that."
Parts of our body that are weakest are absolutely indispensable. Our internal organs, for example. They're weak, they need protection and all that, but without them, we die instantly. And so it is he's saying at the church, the parts that you can't see, you never see them are actually indispensable, vital to the body, but they'll never receive any honor. When was the last time anybody honored your liver or your kidneys? All right? But you can't live without them. Boy, you have a wonderful set of kidneys. It doesn't make any sense, but they're absolutely vital. And so he's using that analogy here, he is saying these parts of the body are vital and yet they'll never be honored. Not in this world, but God sees it. Hebrews 6:10, "God is not unjust. He will not forget your work and the love you have shown his people as you help them and as you continue to help his people." He's not unjust. He will not miss anything. This is the Lord with whom a single day is like a thousand years. Think about that. Every day moves an ultra slow motion for God. He doesn't miss anything. And so those things that you do in secret that no one ever sees it, he knows. He knows what's done by faith and so he'll reward it. And so don't let this be a stumbling block is what he's saying. There are just certain earthly things that seem to go to certain gifts. Don't let there be as he says in verse 25, a division in the body, but each part should have equal concern for one another. Some parts are going to be honored more than others, but it doesn't make a difference. We're all one body. Isn't it true? Remember what it says about Christ in Philippians 2. It says, "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." You see, is there any jealousy in the Trinity? Think about that. Is the Father jealous of the glory and honor given to Jesus? Not at all. To the glory of God the Father goes all that honor to Jesus. And so it should be with the body. We are one body. If one part is honored, every part is honored.
Do you think that my right hand is jealous that it's my left hand that gets to wear the wedding ring? Not that I know. Are you jealous? No, I'm not a jealous. Are you... No. I mean it's just they have different roles. All right. This hand gets to wear the wedding ring. Does it make it more important than this hand? No, I'm actually right-handed. This hand does all this other stuff. So God has elevated this hand because it doesn't get to do all the other stuff that the right hand does. It's absolutely ludicrous the kind of jealousy and bickering that goes on in the body over these things and yet it torments the body. It says in James chapter 3, "Where you have selfish ambition and jealousy, there you find disorder and every evil practice." We've talked about that verse before. That's the kind of thing that happens. And then you end up with disorder in the body and this is the root of it here.
So what is he talking about here? In chapter 12 he's generally talking about, excuse me, your attitude toward your gifts. What is your attitude toward your gift? Are you comparing yourself to others? Are you in some kind of competition with others over your gifts? Don't be because we're all one body and we all need each other and it doesn't really make a difference what kind of earthly honor is accorded to each of these positions, that's what he's saying. But now he moves on, and we're going to skip over this part about appointing apostles and prophets and all that. I want to talk about that when we talk about signed gifts. But then at the end he says, "Do all speak in tongues, do all interpret?" And then in verse 31, "But eagerly desire the greater gifts." It could be translated also, "You are desiring the greater gifts." And it really makes a difference, which, and this is one of those quandaries because in Greek you can't tell which way it goes. Is he saying, "Look at you, you're eagerly desiring greater gifts and you shouldn't be?" Or is he saying, "You should eagerly desire the greater gifts?" It's hard to know. I actually lean on the second one, but not that we desire them for ourselves, but realize the significance or the importance, for example, of prophecy over tongues. He talks about it in chapter 14, "I'd rather have one prophet speak a clear word of prophecy than a bunch of people speaking tongues that we don't understand." We'll get to that in chapter 14, but what he's saying is that we should see the role of prophecy, that particular gift in the life of the body. But he's going to go on at this point and say, "I will now show you a more excellent way or the most excellent way."
"What is your attitude toward your gift? Are you comparing yourself to others? Are you in some kind of competition with others over your gifts? Don't be because we're all one body and we all need each other"
And at this point he's moving on. Now we're into the famous chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, and here in chapter 12, he's talking about the attitude that you have toward your gift. But in chapter 13, he's talking about how you exercise your gift. How do you carry it out? And both of them are vital, aren't they? The attitude you carry to your gift is vital because it'll have to do with how much you use it and your attitude. But then in chapter 13, how do you actually go about using your gift? Now this is a recurring theme. If you look for example in 1 Peter 4, take a minute and go there. In 1 Peter 4... Thank you. In 1 Peter 4, he says in verse 10, 1 Peter 4:10... Actually I want to start at verse 9. "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he have received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ, to him be the glory and the power for ever and ever." What he's saying there is that how you use your gift matters, the power and the words that you use as you use your gift. Simply, Peter divides them into two categories: speaking gifts and serving gifts. But he says, if you speak, do it as one speaking the very words of God. If you serve, do it with the strength God provides. What he's getting at is how you use your gift, how you do your gift makes a difference. If you look at 4:9, we just looked at it, it says, "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." Now, you may have the gift of hospitality, but if you mix grumbling into it, how much of a blessing is that to the body? Have you ever received the gift of hospitality along with some grumbling? Have you ever been somewhere that somebody was extending hospitality with you along with some measure of grumbling? How do you feel? Wouldn't you rather stay in a hotel? I mean, think about it. I mean, wouldn't you rather pay a little extra money and stay rather than put somebody out who's telling you that you're putting them out? And so it actually does make a huge difference how you use your gift. If you use your gift with grumbling, it affects things. It really is an add mixture that weakens everything. All right? He does the same thing in Romans 12. Look over at Romans 12.
Romans 12, he uses the same analogy of the body. Verse 4, 12:4, he says, "Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts according to the grace given us." That's the same teaching. It's so consistent. "If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith." So he's telling, "If your gift is prophesying, this is how you should do it." We'll talk about that when we get to Romans 12, but he's giving instructions to how it's done. And then the next few, he just tells you to use your gift. "If it is serving, let him serve. It is teaching, let him teach. If it is encouraging, let him encourage. If it is contributing to the needs of others," then he says, "give generously." Now he's, again, addressing the issue of how you use your gift. Give generously. And then he says, "If it is leadership, let him govern diligently." Let there be a diligence to how you use your gift. If you are leader, do it diligently. And then, "If it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully." Again, mercy is similar to hospitality. It's a generous giving. You're seeing a need and you want to meet it. And if your gift is mercy, you've got to be cheerful when you do it. Again, doesn't it make a difference to you if you are on the beneficiary side; the receiving the gift of mercy and it's done cheerfully as opposed to un-cheerfully? It makes a huge difference. And that is the context of 1 Corinthians 13.
Look back there at 1 Corinthians 13. He's going to say, "I'm going to show you the most excellent way." Now, why is he doing this? Well, it seems to me in reading across these chapters that they, the Corinthians, were elevating the gift of tongues too highly and that people who had the gift of tongues were boasting over those who didn't. And so that if you didn't have the gift of tongues, you weren't anything in the body. And at one point he says, "I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you." He said, "But there are other gifts better than tongues, and not everyone does speak in tongues, and so you shouldn't be vaunting yourself against each other based on this gift." So he zeroes in on this at the beginning in chapter 13. "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I'm only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." He says, “You may have all the tongues you want, but if you don't have love, you're a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” How you use your gift makes a huge difference.
And then he says, "If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains but have not love, I am nothing." Wow, can you have all that and still not have love? Apparently so. You could have this mighty faith, an incredible gift of prophesying, the ability to just speak the word of God so clearly, but if you don't have love, you're nothing. I'm nothing. Well, what is love? He's going to tell us in a minute. It's patient, it's kind, it's gentle. It doesn't keep a record of wrongs. It's all of those things. So you're saying if I'm not like that, I'm nothing? That's what he's saying. I'm nothing. I can't build up the body that way.
This one is just so challenging me. Verse 3, "If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames but have not love, I gain nothing." Wow. Is it possible really to give away all of your possessions to the poor in an unloving fashion? Is that possible? Apparently so. Apparently it's possible to give away all your possessions to the poor and still not have love. It's how you use your gift. It's how you deal with each other. I believe 1 Corinthians 13 is the hardest chapter in the Bible. I know it's beautiful wedding poetry, but is it really? Or does this not search our hearts out and show us who we really are? Is there any natural love in us? Think about it. Are we naturally loving ever? Or is it only by the power of the Spirit that we can fulfill 1 Corinthians 13? If I give all I possess to the poor. You know, we elevate people that care for the needy, don't we? And rightly so, but what Paul's saying is it's possible to do all that and still have no love. And if so, you gain nothing. Well, gain what? Well, a reward could it be? He's talking about storing up treasure in heaven. You've lost your reward. Just as the open boastful intercessor, the one who parades his or her prayer life, or the one who announces the alms giving with trumpets loses his reward, what do we lose here? Well, we gain nothing. God's not impressed, there's no additional jewels in your crown there because there was no love.
All right, and then he defines love. He says... First of all, in verse 1-3, we see the clear priority of love. Love takes priority over everything. How you use your gift matters. “Well, Paul, then tell us what is love?” Well, “Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud.” These are interpersonal things, aren't they? It has to do with how you treat other people. The first one, patience, long-suffering, putting up with one another, bearing with one another in love, now, I know that you don't need to be borne with, but could you please bear with us or do we all need to bear with one another in love? Don't we all have things that just need to be born with? I've said before in Colossians that two verses kind of sums up all of this when it talks about sinners trying to get along with one another. It says, "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another." That covers it all, doesn't it? Bear with those things that are non-moral, offensive things. These personal habits and other things that just grate on you. And then there are moral offenses. They're called sins. And what do we do with those? Well, you forgive them.
So he's saying, “Love is patient,” it’s long-suffering. It's ready to forgive and its kind, kindness. It's so easy to forget that, isn't it? You get wrapped up in your ministry. You get wrapped up in giving and serving and all the stuff you're doing and you forget kindness. “I'm on a mission from God. Don't you realize how important I am?” Running all the red lights and, “I don't need to do all these things.” And suddenly you find out that you've lost your way. 1 Corinthians 13, “love is kind. It does not envy.” Well, that fits into what we've talked about earlier. It doesn't look at what somebody else has and say, "I wish I had that." Flip side, “it doesn't boast.” We covered that too, isn't it? It's not looking at what somebody else has and say, "Boy, I'm better than you," because I have this or I have that. “It is not proud.” The opposite of love is pride, I think in many cases, arrogance. “It is not rude.” It doesn't break those rules of interpersonal communication. “It's not self-seeking,” doesn't seek what it wants for itself, but actually seeking the benefit for others. “It is not easily angered.” Some of you have a temper. That's good. It's when you lose your temper, that's bad. Temper is self-control. Self-control is good, but sometimes we lose our self-control. Self-control also is a fruit of the Spirit. As we're walking in the power of the Spirit, we're not easily angered. “It keeps no record of wrongs.” Is that hard? Are you challenged by that? "Well, what do I do with this thing called my memory? I remember distinctly what was said that day. I remember distinctly what was done to me. Things like that should not be said or done." Well, that's true. Actually all of it is true. That's the whole point. It is true. Remember that parable of the servant that owed a hundred denarii? Do you realize what a hundred denarii is? A hundred days wages. It's a third of a year's pay. We actually do incur debt with one another, don't we? Well, “I'm not going to keep a record of wrongs.” That's what he's saying. “Love keeps no record of wrongs.”
“Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.” That's so important. The truth builds up, doesn't it? That's why I believe in speaking the truth in love. It is right doctrine. It is biblical doctrine that is healthiest for the church. You're not doing anybody any favors by dropping out parts of the truth. That's not loving. We've got to keep the truth together, but there's a way of doing it. Speaking the truth in love. That's what he's saying. And so truth, true truth, that's redundant. Real truth, biblical truth is always loving, isn't it? It's always good for the body. It's always good if it's true. If it's biblical, it's right. So we don't delight in evil, but we rejoice in the truth and we want to see the truth building up. And we don't delight when we see others fail or stumble or fall into sin. There's nothing delightful about that at all. But we only rejoice in the truth. And then, “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” That is so strong. It always protects. Remember how I said this morning that Jesus protects his bridegroom? A brother or sister protects another brother or sister from sin. Sin is the damaging thing, isn't it? We protect from sin and we protect from threats. And it always trusts. It believes. God is working in your life and I trust that he's going to carry you through. And I hope strongly that we're all going to be there on that final day. No question about it, that we are going to endure to the end. And the bride of Christ is going to be holy and pure and perfect. And it always perseveres. I'm willing to put up with what it takes to see you and me and everyone else through the sanctification process. And it's painful, but I'm willing to put up with it. “Love never fails.” And here is amazing, “Where there are prophecies, they will cease;” all of the spiritual gifts are temporary, “where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.” This is amazing. "When I was a child, I talked like a child. I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." What is he getting at? The essence of what spiritual gifts are about is building the body up in eternal life. And what is eternal life? "Now, this is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." All the spiritual gifts demonstrate some aspect of God's character and nature. Isn't that true? They all demonstrate something about God. We're revealing God to each other. But according to this, all the gifts are just seeing through a mirror darkly, through a glass darkly. We won't need them in heaven. And why? Because we'll see God face-to-face. We don't need prophecy there. We don't need tongues there. We don't need teaching there. We don't need any of those gifts anymore. They'll all fall away because we'll be seeing God face-to-face. Now we just know in part. Even with the beauty of the Bible, 66 books and all the truth, it's still just partial knowledge. Isn't that true? Says at the end of the Gospel of John, "I didn't write it all. If I wrote it all, even the whole world wouldn't contain everything that could be said." You don't have full knowledge here. We have enough for life and godliness, but then we shall have full knowledge.
So all the gifts are temporary. They're partial. They accomplish the end for which God gave them. But in the end, we won't need any of them. And we'll all be on equal footing seeing God face to face. And won't that be beautiful? I look forward to that. “Now I know in part, then I shall know fully even as I have been fully known.” Do you ever think about knowing Jesus as much as he's known you? How much does he know? You remember Psalm 139, "Search me, O God, and know me. Try me and see what I'm like." Well, we're going to search God and know him eternally and we're going to see him and we're going to know him as fully as he's known us. "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." Faith and hope are temporary, aren't they? Who hopes for what he already has? We don't need to hope when we're in heaven. We're already there. We don't need faith when we're seeing face-to-face, but love will remain forever. Isn't that beautiful?
On Wednesday night when you walk in at church conference, remember 1 Corinthians 13. And then on Thursday morning, remember 1 Corinthians 13. And then Friday afternoon, remember 1 Corinthians 13. Use your spiritual gifts, but do it with love because it doesn't really matter how you... It doesn't matter if you use your gift, if you don't have love, it profits nothing for the body of Christ. So let's love one another as he is commanded. Let's close in prayer and then Bill will come and lead us in our closing hymn.