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Annoying and Fruitless

Read: 1 Corinthians 13:1-8

Have you ever tried to listen to the radio at night and dealt with the challenge of two stations bleeding into each other? It is so difficult to understand what is being said, and so often, just when the conversation becomes interesting, the other channel takes over, and the crux of what we're listening to is lost. Annoying.

There's something even more annoying to me. It is when two or three people are talking over each other. The intensity of the words becomes louder and louder, and no one is heard. Annoying and fruitless. I usually turn the channel or leave the room. What is truly convicting is that God says that if we as His children are not living in a loving way, we are as annoying and fruitless as noisy words that profit no one, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

In the book of First Corinthians, even before Paul discussed the definition of love, we can observe by their behavior that the church at Corinth had been demonstrating a lack of that beautiful virtue. This was apparent in several areas of their lives. There were factions within the assembly, 1 Corinthians 1:10-12. Paul was not able to give them deeper truths because they were walking in a worldly way. They walked in jealousy, being led by their fleshly ways and not by the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 3:1-4. They even boasted about the gifts they had received, as if they deserved glory because the Lord had bestowed His favor upon them, 1 Corinthians 4:7. They weren't dealing with unrepentant sin within their fellowship, even boasting about their acceptance of the one who had sinned, 1 Corinthians 5:1-7. They thought nothing of taking a brother or sister to court. They cheated one another and showed a watching world their inability to work out their differences, 1 Corinthians 6:1-8. Let's return for a moment to 1 Corinthians 1, specifically to verses 4-7. Aren't these surprising words in light of what we have just seen concerning the actions of those in Corinth? In spite of the ways they fell short, his was a church that had been given many gifts. Paul was thankful for the eloquent words and knowledge the Lord had given this body. Yet, in many ways they were noisy and fruitless because they weren't displaying biblical love, 1 Corinthians 13:1-8.

What about us, those who belong to Jesus? Are there areas where our lives display some of the Corinthians' traits? Do our reactions sometimes mirror the world's way of living, instead of the Savior's? Do we concentrate more on our gifts and ministries than demonstrating biblical love through them? I don't have to think about that answer. I fall short of Paul's description of love more often than I care to ponder.

Thankfully, there is good news. We are not given this beautiful picture of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and simply left to live it out on our own, dependent upon our own strength. Talk about frustrating. No, in sharp contrast to that, admitting our inability is the first step toward walking in this love. The Lord has told us that we have already been equipped with all we need for living a godly life, 2 Peter 1:3. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit whose home we are, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, is not lacking in love. His patience, kindness and all of the other facets of love we have been shown, are ever flowing from Him into our lives. They are ours in abundance, if only we yield to Him rather than our fleshly way of doing things. We have a choice. Will we depend upon the stagnant water of a life fueled by our flesh or will we depend upon the Holy Spirit for the living water that He has promised us, John 7:37-39??

No wonder Paul, in First Corinthians 12, after discussing the gifts God had given His people said in verse 31 that he wanted to show them "the most excellent way". The way of love. No matter the beauty of the gift, it is noisy and fruitless if it isn't enabled and motivated by God's love.

Lord, help us to depend on You so that we can display Your love.

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