The greatest of these is love
I want you to do me a favor. I want you to take a moment and think about yourself and what your best personal attribute is. For example, are you intelligent and good at figuring things out? Are you generous, and always willing to help others? Are you physically strong and able to work long hours? Do you have strength of character and are never wavering in your convictions? I think all of you can think of some characteristic or virtue that is your greatest personal strength.
Now that you have figured that out, I want you to take another moment and think about how do you use that talent? Do you use it to make yourself popular? Do you use it to make a living? Do you use it to care for others? Maybe you do not use it at all? The fact is that all of us whether sinner or saint have certain talents and abilities. The divide in the world is not between the talented and the untalented, rather it is in how we choose to use the gifts that we have.
In one of my classes this week I was talking about technology and how the technology is generally morally neutral. My students laughed when I pointed out that even though hammers are generally useful, they can be negative if used to hit other people over the head. It is the same way with the gifts and the talents that you have. There are undoubtedly ways in which you can use those gifts for good, and there are ways that you can use them for evil.
This is why in the 13th chapter of the second letter to the Corinthians the Apostle Paul subordinates all gifts to the virtue of love. Remember where it states:
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
“If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (NIV)
We are all given tools to use in our life, but we also need to take the time to learn to use those tools correctly. And when it comes to our gifts and abilities that means learning to use them in a way that shows love. Think first how can I, through my gifts and abilities, show love to God. Then consider how can I through my gifts and abilities show love to my neighbors and those who surround me. Once you have done this you have begun to fulfill the great commandment that Christ gave to his people.
This week remember that you have been gifted by God. Now use those gifts in the way that God has commanded and remember the words of Paul: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Note: Last week’s column: Pastor Thor Skeie is pastor of Saints Lutheran, Darwin.