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Go To: Study Six
Studies in 1 Cor. 12-15, Power From On High:
Study #5: A More Excellent Way
In the very last verse of 1 Corinthians chapter twelve, we are told:
"But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way."
In these studies of 1 Corinthians 12-15, we are following the Scriptures and are seeing that the reason "the best gifts" are not spelled out here is simply that being best depends on what is needed most at any given time.
We also saw that, while "coveting earnestly the best gifts" or seeking to do what is most necessary at the time may a wonderful principle for living life, this particular reference directly infers our use of spiritual power in our lives.
At any given time, we are to walk in the spirit as God gives us wisdom and knowledge of Him, and how this will operate at any given time should depend on what is needed most.
Walking in the spirit bears much fruit, but only manifests nine ways and we are to be willing to walk so that whichever operation is necessary to bring about the necessary manifestation, we will do our part.
Ergo, covet earnestly the best gifts, the best bestowing of God's grace for each situation, each moment in our lives.
So yes, covet earnestly the best gifts, and yet we will be shown a more excellent way.
"And yet" is not "but." It does not set into contrast. "And yet," as good as you may being doing by coveting earnestly to be part of what is necessary, there is a better thing to build on what you will be doing.
1 Cor. 13:1: "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal."
Signs, miracles and wonders will follow those that believe on the Lord. We shall speak in new tongues, if we are (accidentally or by another's malicious intent) dosed with poison, we shall be unhurt.
Nothing wrong with the tongues, nothing wrong with all the other stuff. They are manifestations of the operation of spirit, of the gift of God.
But if we do these things without charity, we ourselves are as sounding brass, (hollow,) or a tinkling cymbal, which as we know lacks depth.
The tongues are good, but it says we who are doing it are hollow and without true depth.
"Charity" as it is used here is from the Greek word "agape," which is in the profane literature an altruistic selfless love, and in the Bible used to refer to God's selfless love for us.
It is a love willing to sacrifice, willing to serve the interests of those we love.
In the secular Greek literature, "agape" was used so seldom before the New Testament was written that it has only recently been discovered in texts older than the New Testament.
Indeed, most Bible scholars still erroneously believe it was made up to describe God's perfect love, that is how powerful and important it is.
God so loved that He gave, He sacrificed, His only begotten son, and we are to have that same love.
When we do, our striving to do what at any time is necessary will become so powerful, it will be a more excellent way. We will still walk in the spirit, but with a new heart.
1 Cor. 13:2-3: "And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
"And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."
Sure, we strive to use prophesy that the Church is edified. We seek and use revelation, and work faith.
But we need to love, we need to surrender our very existence that what blesses God and His people blesses us. Otherwise, we really don't get anything of eternal value from the deal.
Yet God wants us to be blessed in all we do, so He wants us not only to be loved, but to love.
1 Cor. 13:4-6: "Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
"Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
"Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;"
We have all seen possessive fools who say they love someone, but are cruel. They say they love, but are full of envy, boasting, pride, ill mannered, selfish, wrathful and foul natured.
True agape rejoices not in all these evil things, but in truth.
1 Cor. 13:7: "Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."
When you are so filled with love and concern for those you minister to, be they neighbors, friends, family, loved ones, members of the Church, you endure what the Word of God says to endure, trust and act on what the Word says is right, anticipate what God says will come, and keep enduring.
As the song says, "I will fall down, I will stumble, but I shall not be moved."
1 Cor. 13:8-10: "Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
"For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
"But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away."
How often does this love, this genuine sacrifice of self so that others might benefit of the love of God fail? Never.
All these wonderful tools God gives us, we might find ourselves in bad situations in life, limited not by the spirit in us but by our weakness as being flesh and blood.
Prophesies will fail. When we are resurrected we will have no need of tongues for making intercession. But love will never fail, and it is what it is today same as it is tomorrow: loving others as if they are a part of ourselves.
Knowledge? There will be a time when the knowledge we receive through revelation will be done away with. We will exist in the same realm as God and His Word shall be written in our hearts, so the knowledge of today will fade away.
Why? Because we shall be spiritual beings in every way, whole, and that which is in part, that which we have today, will be done away with.
But the love, brothers and sisters, the love remains the same.
1 Cor. 13:11-12: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."
You see, in our flesh, there was a time when our priorities were the things important to us as children: growing up, playing games silly to us now, learning how to act even.
In the flesh, as adults, we behave in ways we feel are mature. Our priorities have gelled, we seek to fulfill our adult responsibilities, we tend to take maturity for granted in many situations.
But spiritually, we have not reached adulthood. Look at 1 John:
1 John 3:2: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."
We are not face to face yet. When Jesus Christ comes back and appears to us, the Scriptures say the dead will rise incorruptible, and the living among the Church will put on incorruption, because, as 1 John says, we shall be like him.
At that time, tongues will cease for us. We won't be picking up our KJV or our NIV.
But the love won't change.
After the elements melt and God has put together a new heaven and earth, we will have put away childish things.
But it will be the same love.
We certainly will see it brighter, live it better, but love never fails.
And those things we built out of the love of God we will carry with us through eternity.
Those bonds with our brothers and sisters that we built by living love, by sacrificing the things we "felt like" doing so that we could do whatever needed doing, those things are gold, precious stones that will be with us for ever and ever.
Because love never fails.
It is ready to rise to the occasion.
It is the more excellent way.
1 Cor. 13:13: "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."
Do we live, do we behave as Christians without faith and hope?
Of course not.
We may have heard those who say, "I don't need to believe for power to come to pass, I don't need prayer that makes intercession, I don't need to understand what it is we call the Rapture."
That is like saying, "I'm going to college, I don't need my stomach or my heart., just as long as I have a brain."
Its a package.
The more excellent way is the way of love.
Love tunes you in to the needs of others, and fires up your desire to rise up to do what is needed.
For this reason, its more excellent than merely coveting earnestly the best gifts.
You see, walking in love, wanting to do whatever it takes to "get the job done," to deliver and bless God's people, is not a second nature, it becomes your first nature.
It indeed is a more excellent way.
So while it is still necessary to attend to all these spiritual matters, to know of them and act accordingly, it is always to be done in love, which never fails.
While we are to be aware of the rules of the game, the gifts, the administrations, the operations, lets not be motivated basically by what's in it for us.
Sure, Eye hath not seen nor ear heard what God has in store for those who love Him...but its still about loving Him.
Love, selfless agape love, never fails.
Certainly, we are to walk in the spirit. We are to manifest the spirit in us as God has enabled us according to the needs of each situation we are in, according to the needs of God's people. But it is love that never fails.
And we are to do what is necessary, according not to prestige but according to wisdom from above. We are to covet earnestly those necessary things.
But above that, we are to seek to attain while doing these things the more excellent way, that of selfless love according to God's Word.
You see, this section reveals many necessary truths regarding what is called walking in the spirit. But the crux of the spiritual walk is not operating the spirit so that it is manifested, as we are told we can do as we will in 1 Cor. 12:7-11.
The crux of "being spiritual" is not the works we do, but the love we have that motivates us to do these things.
If we are motivated by pride, or by the desire to look good in front of those we love, or by self-interest, those things are still helpful to those ministered to, but we O Lord are hollow and without depth.
Let this not be. Live love.
Now that we have this to keep in mind, now that we are reminded to keep love as our motivation so that we don't go on some "spirituality" kick, now that we have love to keep us grounded, we are ready in the next final studies to explore just how we are to walk in this spirit, how we are to operate spiritually so that the spirit is manifested to the glory of God.
Go To:Study Four
Go To: Study Six