Sandwiched in between I Corinthians 12 and I Corinthians 14, there is a much-quoted and maybe misunderstood section of scripture. In chapter 12, the 'spiritual matters' in the new creation are illuminated. Chapter 14 contains the practical use of the spiritual functions in the community. In between, at the heart of this whole section, is the love of God spelled out in chapter 13.
These chapters did not fall together haphazardly. The gift of holy spirit that we have been given as a result of the new birth is the love of God shed throughout our beings. It is not just a worldly love as verse 3 indicates:
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity (love of God), it profiteth me nothing. I Corinthians 13:3There is nothing wrong with doing good works, but it is important to know the cart does not go before the horse. Work does not come before love has established that work. The engine behind any spiritual good that we do is the originator of the gift, our Father, God.
In the Corinthians group, all those who received the gift of holy spirit could operate that gift. It wasn't just relegated to a chosen few. Paul wrote about how they were to keep things in order among such a spiritually endowed group in these three chapters.
In chapter 13:4-8 sits a figure of speech called Asyndeton where several things are listed together and at the end of the list is an all-encompassing summation: 'The love of God never faileth.'
4 Charity suffereth long (long-tempered), and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Charity never faileth: Corinthians 13: 4-8aThis list is not something we break apart into individual bite size pieces, study and try to incorporate into our actions. This is something that emanates as we carry out the love that God powers in our hearts to do the works he would have us to do.
If, say, "Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things" or "Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth" is taken out of the mix, what have you got? The 'things' listed here refer to the things that God provides as described in his Word. If the Word is not there, what then is there to rejoice in?