Paul concludes his first letter to the Corinthians with the longest treatise on spiritual gifts and then a reflection on the nature of the resurrection. Inside this reading today is one of the most famous passages of Scripture and I'd like to reflect on its placement.
1 Corinthians 13 is often read at weddings and other places where love is a general theme. That's fine with me. I know some who get torqued about that but I'm not one of them. It still speaks of love, even if marriage isn't the context of the passage.
Which it isn't.
The context of chapter 13 is chapters 12 and 14. Spiritual gifts surround 1 Corinthians 13. So the love chapter has mostly to do with the church's use of spiritual gifts and that should be its first application, not weddings.
The Corinthians were fighting about who was the most spiritual by measuring their spirituality by spiritual gifts. Paul makes clear that the Spirit distributes the gifts as He sees fit, so His gifting one with one gift and another with another gift is NOT related to their spirituality. In some circles today, people still use spiritual gifts to measure one another's spirituality. Bad idea. Bad bad bad idea. Speaking in tongues doesn't make you spiritually mature (nor does any other gift).
So if the gift doesn't measure spirituality, what does? Love.
Are you mature? Well, if you are patient, kind, not a relational score-keeper, and a truth-rejoicer, then you are on your way. And that's a much better measure of spiritual maturity.
But that's just me thinking thoughts...