“And now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Paul here concludes the Love Chapter, but is only midway through the teaching on spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts should not be taught without a full understanding of how Agape love works. If love is left out, spiritual gifts “puff up“, breed “envy“, and lead to “vaunting” oneself above others. (1 Cor. 13:4). I’ve seen some of the ugliest people in Pentecostal churches competing for who is the greatest in these supernatural gifts. The better question is: who succeeds in loving others into the Kingdom? Jesus said, Whoever is greatest among you should be servant of all (Mark 10:43-44).
Although spiritual gifts are only temporary, and although Jesus will one day return and answer all these mysteries and questions we have, there are three foundational principles that will always be steady: Faith, Hope, and Love. Faith is seeing God in the current picture and believing for something better. Hope is the earnest expectation that God is up to something good whether I see the big picture or not. And Love is allowing God to love sinners through us. Love is unconditional and sacrificial, and never gives up.
I heard a testimony the other day about a Christian woman living in a Muslim land. A man persecuted her by pouring hot sauce into her eyes in public. She cried out in agony, “I still pray for you, ———“. He replied that he would be back to teach her an even greater lesson. That night the Muslim man had a dream about Isah (Jesus). He couldn’t shake it from his mind, so he went to her and asked her to tell him about Isah. She did and the dream gave him the faith to accept Christ. Today he is a leader in the church in that closed Muslim nation. That’s how Love overcomes evil.