It’s a little presumptuous to talk about Christmas. However, it is likely that Christmas will be very interesting this year. Either the traveling will breakout to overwhelm the system (which is suffering from abandonment, at this point), or everyone will stay home. Regardless, children will still eagerly await to see what the wrapped presents contain.
Parents don’t wait for Christmas to give gifts, or even until birthdays. Often the unthought present is a favorite meal or just a hug on a bad day. Little gifts of love are generally just lived out. We actually don’t think of them…and that’s a good thing.
Love is the best four-letter word. It is also one of the most confusing words. When Paul uses it here, it is a deep affection and respect. In other words, looking to the benefit of the other.
His famous words are often used in wedding ceremonies. It’s not wrong (For, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” 2 Tim 3:16). It’s just part of a bigger picture.
Paul’s real focus is the “greater” gifts: faith, hope, love. In the context of these words, though, it is about the spiritual gifts given to the people of God. Going back to Jesus’ words, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:13)
Our constant focus on love (though worthwhile) misses the point Paul is trying to make. The three greater gifts are what make the spiritual gifts powerful and effective.
Great! You can argue a fish into believing it’s allergic to water! You obviously don’t love it.
Fantastic! You know the Scriptures and the original languages! You have lost all hope with your knowledge.
Wonderful! You are a talented medical worker through whom bodies thought gone can heal. You have left the soul (including your own) to wither and die.
What should be the most interesting thing here is that Paul brings up three (faith, hope, love) and only speaks of one (love). Paul felt, it seems, that faith and hope were sufficient on their own, and needed no further explanation. Love, however, needed something more.
In an era where “faith” and “hope” seem to be faded (if not gone) in the wider culture, and love has generally become a saccharine-sweet noxious feeling that is stuck in a romantic byway, the church (that is, you) must relearn, regain, reteach, and rejoice in the 3 greatest gifts: faith, hope, love.
Lord, may we not take the lesser or greater gifts for granted. May we actually use them for your glory and to fulfill your will for our lives. Amen.