“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love… I am nothing.” (I Corinthians 13:1-3)
After a devastating battle during the first World War, Canadian army surgeon John McCrae composed one of the greatest war poems ever written. In it he gave voice to thousands of soldiers who lay dead, summing up their lives on earth with one line: “Loved and were loved, but now we lie in Flanders Fields.”
When we come to the end of this life, we’ll find that one of our most important priorities will be those we love, and those who love us. But we should not wait until this dimension of life is ending to focus our priorities. The question we should all answer is: “What is our number one priority right now?”
The Apostle Paul composed an inspired poem in which he declared that the agape love of God should be the number one priority of spiritual people. He wrote that love is greater than knowledge and more important than faith. His inspired words about love have been, and should be, read in every generation of church history. That includes you and me.
Paul’s teaching about spiritual gifts concludes with: “Earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I will show you a more excellent way.” (I Corinthians 12:31) Paul continues with his prescription: “Let love be your greatest aim,” or, “Put love first.” (LB, NEB)
A SUMMARY PARAPHRASE APPLICATION:
If we speak with great eloquence and even in tongues, but without love, we’re just a lot of noise. If we have all knowledge to understand all the Greek mysteries, the gift to speak as prophets, and enough faith to move mountains, unless we love as we do all these things, we are nothing. If we give all our money to feed the poor, and our bodies to be burned at the stake as martyrs, if we give and die without love, it profits us nothing.
Nothing we are, nothing we ever become, nothing we have, and nothing we ever will have in the way of natural and spiritual gifts should ever move ahead of love as our first priority. Nothing we do, or ever will do as an expression of our faith, our gifts, our knowledge, or our generous, charitable, unconditionally-surrendered heart is worthy of comparison, or can replace love as we live out our personal priorities in this world.
Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love