A More Excellent Way!

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious One,

Some words are simply more important than others. In the human vocabulary that We — Father, Son, and Spirit — use, one word stands above all others: love. Our nature is love — as John beautifully stated:

[A]nyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love — not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

(1 John 4:8-12 NLT)

I came to earth to walk among you and share your mortality because of Our love. We came to your world to save you from what is broken and dying so we can redeem both you and your world (John 3:16-17; 1 John 3:16-18; Romans 8:22-25). While I lived among you, I taught you that the whole law could be summed up in two love commands: Love God with all that you are and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). I demonstrated love with what I did in My life (John 13:1-5) and in My death (Romans 5:6-11; 1 John 3:16). I called on you, again and again, to love each other showing the fruit of the Father’s loving grace in your own dealings with each other (John 15:9-13).

Our example of love is the basis of what the apostle Paul told new Christians in Thessalonica:

Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family… Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more,…

(1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 NIV)

The last verses below from the apostle Paul — chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians — are some of his most famous and celebrated words. Many people call these words the love chapter of the Bible. However, I want you to realize that these words were written to a church where spiritual gifts were being misused because of pride and rivalry. Notice the words Paul uses to set up his teaching, which he points out is “a more excellent way” and leads to “the greater gifts”:

Are all members gifted as emissaries [apostles]? Are all gifted with prophetic utterance? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Or are all gifted in healing arts? Do all speak or interpret unknown languages? Of course not. Pursue the greater gifts, and let me tell you of a more excellent way — love.

(1 Corinthians 12:29-31)

Paul is making clear that no matter how talented, rich, smart, generous, spiritual, or gifted in other ways you are, without doing what you do in love, your giftedness means nothing. People fuss, fight, and divide My body, the church, over things that are temporary. And the result is they end up neglecting the things that really matter — faith, hope, and love — and especially the one thing that matters most: LOVE!

Verses to Live

What Paul says here is not only true, but it also is essential for you as My disciple. You must be loving. But also remember that you cannot love others fully and sacrificially on your own power. Loving others must be your commitment, but you can also turn to Us and ask for Our help to live this way of love. We will supply you with the power to love! So I give you this promise, through the words of Paul:

When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness. And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love.

(Romans 5:4-5)

Now carefully read, consider, and commit to applying this beautiful teaching from the apostle Paul!

What if I speak in the most elegant languages of people or in the exotic languages of the heavenly messengers, but I live without love? Well then, anything I say is like the clanging of brass or a crashing cymbal. What if I have the gift of prophecy, am blessed with knowledge and insight to all the mysteries, or what if my faith is strong enough to scoop a mountain from its bedrock, yet I live without love? If so, I am nothing. I could give all that I have to feed the poor, I could surrender my body to be burned as a martyr, but if I do not live in love, I gain nothing by my selfless acts.

Love is patient; love is kind. Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about. There’s no arrogance in love; it’s never rude, crude, or indecent — it’s not self-absorbed. Love isn’t easily upset. Love doesn’t tally wrongs or celebrate injustice; but truth — yes, truth — is love’s delight! Love puts up with anything and everything that comes along; it trusts, hopes, and endures no matter what. Love will never become obsolete.

Now as for the prophetic gifts, they will not last; unknown languages will become silent, and the gift of knowledge will no longer be needed. Gifts of knowledge and prophecy are partial at best, at least for now, but when the perfection and fullness of God’s kingdom arrive, all the parts will end.

When I was a child, I spoke, thought, and reasoned in childlike ways as we all do. But when I became a man, I left my childish ways behind. For now, we can only see a dim and blurry picture of things, as when we stare into polished metal. I realize that everything I know is only part of the big picture. But one day, when Jesus arrives, we will see clearly, face-to-face. In that day, I will fully know just as I have been wholly known by God. But now faith, hope, and love remain; these three virtues must characterize our lives. The greatest of these is love.

(1 Corinthians 13:1-13)

Response in Prayer

O Father, I invite the Holy Spirit to fill my heart with Your love so that my life overflows with love for those with whom I live. Help me demonstrate Your love to those that my life touches. May my love overflow to those that You place in my path to touch with Your grace. May my life be filled with the aroma of Your love in all that I do, think, and say. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.