Love is Patient

4 Love is patient, 1 Corinthians 13:4a

We all have varying levels of patience. Most of the time when we want something, we want it now. Our culture encourages that too. Amazon has free overnight delivery. We use microwaves to cook many things. We don’t even have to go to the store to shop; we can do it from home and have it delivered, overnight if we want. The education system promotes promiscuity (“if it feels good, do it”) and mocks abstinence (“you can’t expect kids to be able to control their urges”).

If you want to see true patience, consider God Himself. Based on what we see and hear in the world, if we were God (and THANKFULLY we aren’t), we would have destroyed this world many times over. God has the ultimate patience to put up with the evil, sin, and utter chaos that mankind has wrought. We, of course, only see from a very limited viewpoint.

Praise God today for His unlimited patience with the world.

And with us.

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Gifts Without Love Spells Disaster

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 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 do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Paul understood the power that many of these gifts would have in people’s lives. He understood that people would use them as “calling cards” or bragging rights. He mostly understood the ability people had to abuse their gift and to lord it over someone else.

Enter love.

Love plus any of these gifts is significant. Love without any of these gifts is also important.

However, using these gifts without love is dangerous. These gifts were never to be used as weapons. They are used to build up the body of Believers in the church.

Paul wrote these verses as a warning to us. But the best part about these verses is what comes next. Read ahead a couple of times if you haven’t already memorized the rest of the chapter from previous readings.

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A Lead-in to Love

31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way. 1 Corinthians 12:31

Paul finished this chapter with a hint at what was to come. The next chapter is perhaps one of the most beloved in Scripture. Of course it is “the love chapter.” But before going there it’s important to wrap up this chapter. What we’ve just read here is great for building up the Body of Christ, but it’s nothing without the greatest gift of all. In fact, if you think about it, many people in this world are very unlovable. They may be downright mean and nasty. It takes a supernatural gift of love to love them. And some of those mean and nasty people are in the church!

So love underpins all of these gifts, as we’ll explore later in the next chapter. You can’t successfully use any of those gifts without love.

Take the time today to read back over this chapter and the next in one sitting. Think about what you’re reading. Bless God for the love He gives us.

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Your Unique Gifts

29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 1 Corinthians 12:29-30

Is was never the Lord’s intention for all people to have all the gifts, or for one gift to be used by all. We have skills and gifts that no one else would want. Others have gifts that we don’t want or need.

It’s quite a big mistake to envy someone with superior gifts or talents because we don’t know the full story behind that person or the gift. For instance, apostles and prophets have burdens that teachers or administrators would never want. Likewise, those same gifted people might find teaching and managing people and projects to be incredibly boring and mundane.

Take the time today to thank God for the unique gifts and talents you’ve been given. No one in the world has exactly what you have. Many will be able to benefit when you use those gifts.

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Tongues to Edify

and of different kinds of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:28

The last of the gifts Paul mentioned in this verse is that of tongues. As discussed in verse 10, the use of tongues in a church setting is to build up and edify the church. If the person using that gift does it to merely puff himself up, then it’s of no use. However, if people in the church are built up, then it has great value. Unfortunately this is one gift that is a source of contention among denominations. Denominations are split over the use (and sometimes abuse) of the gift of tongues.

Would you pray for your fellow Believers on the other side of the denominational aisle, as it were? Since the gift of tongues considered by most as a secondary doctrinal issue (unrelated to Salvation), we should pray for those who think a bit differently from us. The issue shouldn’t divide us, but it does. Anything we can do to eliminate barriers advances the Kingdom of God.

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Getting Things Done

of guidance, 1 Corinthians 12:28

This part of the verse has also been translated: government, administration, managers, and leaders. Without these roles in the Church, there would be a lot of chaos. These people are able to bring the talents and gifts of various workers together to get things done. We see that in the business world as well. When a construction project manager pulls together plumbers, concrete workers, builders, metal workers, electricians, plumbers, surveyors, architects, and general laborers, the building gets built. Otherwise, the plumbers will have to contact the metal workers to make sure they can go in and do their jobs. With a small team of managers “directing traffic,” so to speak, the work gets done.

Managers or administrators get the “glory” for a job well done, but they also get the blame when things don’t go well. It comes with the territory. They are always searching for new “tools” to make their jobs easier. If an administrator or a manager is doing his job well, you probably won’t notice it. Some people really love the challenges of figuring out what needs done with being able to manage people effectively. That’s not an easy task at all if you’ve ever worked with people.

Think about those administrators or managers in your church. Perhaps it’s a church secretary or perhaps it’s an associate pastor. Pray for them and their families.

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Helpers

of helping, 1 Corinthians 12:28

Helping gift and role is the unsung hero of the gifts. Nobody notices the helpers because they often don’t want to take credit. When you see these gifts being used, it truly is a thing of beauty. Often, one or two people will take charge of the helpers.

I’m thinking of kitchen duties during a church potluck. There are lots of people in the kitchen but one or two have taken charge to get it all organized. They love to hear, “What can I do to help?”

Rarely does a church or ministry have too many people working behind the scenes, but it’s a nice problem to have. Often church leaders have to beg and cajole to get basic work done.

Reach out to one of these workers this week. When you started reading this devotional today, one or two people stood out in your mind. Send them a note encouraging them. They’ll appreciate it.

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Miracles and Healing

then miracles, then gifts of healing, 1 Corinthians 12:28

I merge these two roles together because one has an element of the other. We don’t think much of these two roles unless we’re getting prayed for in an altar call. God still heals and He still performs miracles. And God still uses people to pray for healing and miracles. Unfortunately, the television charlatans have made a mockery out of the two roles because the healings and miracles are often tied to giving.

How tragic!

The good news however is if there are false healers and miracles workers, there are true ones too. They won’t be flashy or on television. They’ll be working in the local church, humble and full of the spirit of God. They won’t need to be flashy because they will be working to build up the church. May God bless those who have this calling.

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Ah, the Teachers!

third teachers, 1 Corinthians 12:28

As we all know, teachers are the foundation of the Church. Preaching from the pulpit, Sunday School classes, and home Bible studies are all forms of teaching we need to grow in the faith. When a person refuses to sit to hear Biblical teaching because he’s already “read that book before,” he’s in danger. What teaching does is emphasizes Biblical truth, and we all need that. Teachers are plentiful in the kingdom of God and that’s by design. Teachers are also held to a higher standard. But teachers are no more important than the other roles in the Kingdom we’ve discussed thus far and those in the future.

As you can see, there are many necessary parts of the body of Christ. All are necessary for the church to thrive and flourish.

Today if you see a teacher who has influenced you, stop them and thank them out of the blue. They will appreciate it immensely.

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