Last week I said that while it is often exciting to see these gifts of the Ruachin action, what I long for in our congregation, is that we receive and give out the love of Yeshua. Sha’ul prioritises the fruit of love above all the gifts of Prophesy, Tongues and Knowledge. Not only is this passage on love sandwiched between two passages about giftings (a typical way of emphasis in Jewish writings), but Sha’ul now explicitly contrasts love with the gifts.[Read 1 Cor. 13:8-13] [i]
(Vs. 8-10) Sha’ul starts out by stating that love never fails. There will never be a time when love will not be the correct course of action. There are times when we may demonstrate “tough love” in the form of correction or discipline. However, these actions must always be done out of a heart of concern and compassion for the other person’s long-term growth and development.
But prophesies, tongues and knowledge will one day pass away and cease. All these gifts are imperfect, just as all of us are imperfect. A time will come when the gifts of the Ruach will no longer be necessary. Sha’ul says that time is then “that which is perfect is come.” Perfection is the goal of the New Covenant as spoken about in the letter to the Hebrews (ch. 10). Perfection is what Yeshua is leading us toward (Matt. 5:48, Heb. 12:2). How many people believe they have arrived at perfection? …. Then until “that which is perfect has come then” the Gifts of the Ruach will remain. Any doctrine that teaches we can live without the gifts or the fruit of the Ruach is only telling half the story.
(Vs. 11) Sha’ul now uses an example of physical maturity to speak about growing spiritually in love. In 386 C.E. Jerome recounted the following story about John the beloved,
“The blessed John the Evangelist lived in Ephesus until extreme old age. His disciples could barely carry him to church and he could not muster the voice to speak many words. During individual gatherings he usually said nothing but, “Little children, love one another.” The disciples and brothers in attendance, annoyed because they always heard the same words, finally said, “Teacher, why do you always say this?” He replied with a line worthy of John: “Because it is the Lord’s commandment and if it alone is kept, it is sufficient.””[ii]
Spiritual maturity is not measured by how well we prophesy, or how much we speak in tongues, or how much of the Scriptures we know. Spiritual maturity is measured by how much we demonstrate love toward God and others. On the night he was betrayed, Yeshua modeled humility, and drove home the necessity of love. That night Yeshua gave us only one new commandment, “love one another. Just as I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) After saying this, Yeshua went on to say that the Ruach was to be given as a Helper to help us demonstrate our love toward God.[Read John 14:15-21]
The problem that the congregation in Corinth had was not an over emphasizing of the gifts of the Ruach ha-Kodesh, but their problem was not demonstrating any love for one another.[iii]
I know that there was a lot of turmoil over the Revival meetings that we were a part of 3 weeks ago. I had agreed to combining with High Street Church to build relationship with Pastor Wayne Lyons.
And although I questioned the authenticity of the speakers for the first two days, I trusted Pastor Lyons. After hearing the testimonies of how each of the speakers came to Yeshua, and hearing of their love for the Lord, I chose to give them the benefit of the doubt.
But in the end, I am not so worried about the style of a visiting minister. What I am concerned with, is how we as a congregation responded. Did we act lovingly? Were we patient? Did we believe the best about them? Were we proud? Were we provoked to anger?
[i] All Scripture quotations are taken from the Tree of Life (TLV) version unless otherwise noted.
[ii] Jerome’s Commentary on Galatians 6:10
[iii] The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Rev. Ed., Vol 11, pg. 373.