PDF of Study Guide available HERE 

Love is the foundation of all that is truly Christ-following. In our series on Spiritual Gifts, we must claim Love as our motivation for sharing and using our gifts.

The Tension Of Love

Love Lives In The Tension Between Justice and Mercy. It was love that tore the greed out of the temple, while also pleading with people that God’s house is one of prayer and worship.

Love gets involved. Jesus did not fear getting his hands dirty. He goes where no one else will. That is the tension of love. It gets awkward. It gets close.

Love isn’t punishment or license. It is discipline, accountability, compassion, support, and restoration. Love is close and personal. Love lives in the tension between Justice and Mercy, Law and Grace, Punishment and License. And, love is the only proper motivation for our Spiritual Gifts.

1 Corinthians 12:31-13:3 (NLT) 31 So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts.

But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all.

1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love Is More Important Than My Gifts

What Motivates My Gift? Spiritual Gifts do not run on an operating system of Fear, Control, and Shame. These norms prevent you from experiencing community, sharing your gifts, or understanding your gifts. They may also cause us to use our gifts to manipulate others rather than serve them. 

Love is VERY CONSIDERATE. Paul talked about being all things to all men for the purpose of helping them discover Jesus. He was considerate in his relationships with everyone. When love motivates your gifts, you will respect boundaries, wounds, misconceptions, and fears.

Who Benefits From My Gifts? If we see our gifts as for ourselves, then we will use them to our own ends. But, if we believe they are for Jesus we will use them as He used his gifts. We will be as gentle and bold as he was.  Then we will be able to GIVE with confidence. We can give knowing God will use, honor, and minister through our gifts. My gifts aren’t for me. The bless and sustain me, but they are not for me.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT) Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Love Is More Important Than My Feelings

Give Up On Hurt. Love is almost exclusively defined as feelings for most people. But that is immature and lacks understanding.  Love evokes powerful feelings, no doubt. But, love is not feelings. Often it is sacrifice, consistency, difficulty, endurance, or patience. True love often hurts.

And, Love is vulnerable. No one can hurt you like those you love. Love opens up to others. It shares truth and takes risks. And, often we are hurt.

But, there is healing for your hurt. Jesus came for the brokenhearted. God draws near to the brokenhearted. When we carry our hurts and wounds around, we deny God and His love for us. We deny the sacrifice and mission of Jesus on our behalf.

Embrace Hope. Jesus is your Hope. Hope is the secret to endurance. Hope doesn’t have an end date. Hope doesn’t own a calendar. Hope knows that good is coming. Hope knows that things will change. Evil will break. It doesn’t know when, nor care. Love never loses hope, because Jesus is our hope.

In the context of your gifts. We may have to set boundaries. We may be waiting on people. We may be praying for people. But, we don’t need to give up. Ruthless hope characterizes our gifts. You may not have been healed, but I have hope. You may not have turned to Christ, but there is hope. You may not have a way, a solution, means, or resources. We may not have a HOW but we have hope. ALWAYS.

1 Corinthians 13:13-14:1 (NLT) Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy.

Love Is…

Serving. Love is metaphorically washing feet (John 13). It restores sinners, heals the sick, and releases the oppressed. One reason many will never discover their gifts is a misunderstanding of their purpose. Many want their gifts to make them feel special, or to give them authority. This is not the purpose of gifts. Their purpose is to serve people. Love is serving and our gifts function with the operating system of Love.

Sacrifice. Most of what you do in pursuit of Jesus is for someone else.  In time, we discover that our sacrifices sustain us. Nothing is more beautiful or needful than sacrificial love. It is the foundation of the gospel and the lifeblood of your faith.

John 13:34-35 (NLT) So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Evidence. God Is Love (1 John 4:8). I have talked to so many people over the years about their security as a believer. There is evidence for faith. It is obedience, and it is sacrifice. Love looks like God, and God sacrificed for those He loves. We will do the same.

Our job is to discover our gifts, use our gifts, serve with our gifts, and love with our gifts.

  • Discuss the tension between Justice and Mercy, Law and Grace, Punishment and License. How does our love for others create tension?
  • Discuss the idea that Love comes close while apathy stays at a distance. How do we use criticism to keep from getting involved? How do we use pity to keep from getting involved?
  • Why do you think it is important for our spiritual gifts to function within the operating system or the motivation of Love?
  • How do we use our spiritual gifts to minister to the Body of Jesus by serving people?
  • Why is it that those we love the most are the ones that are able to hurt us the most?
  • How do we embrace hope when we are hurt, offended, or going through difficulty?
  • Have you begun discovering your gifts? If so, how will you start using them? If not, why not?