We have been celebrating Whitsun last weekend. On the first day of Pentecost, in Jerusalem God has been pouring out his Holy Spirit on the group of Jesus’ disciples who had been tarrying in Jerusalem praying and seeking God.
Pentecost is very important to the subject of my blog. The chapters 12 to 14 in Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians refer to the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
In chapter 13 verses 1-3 some gifts of the Holy Spirit are mentioned too. Nevertheless, the chapter is an intermission between chapters 12 and 14.
In chapter 12 Paul is introducing a list of gifts of the Holy Spirit. Various members of the church have received such gifts. Yet the body of the church belongs together. In chapter 14 Paul is giving a number of practical instructions as to the use of the gift of speaking in tongues and the gift of prophetic utterance.
In chapter 13:1-3 Paul is stressing the importance of love. Church activities and spiritual exercises are of limited value if there should be a lack of love.
Now in verses 4 to 7 Paul is describing love. He is telling us what true love would be like.
During the last two years, I have been working through the list of aspects of love in verses 4 and 5. Somehow I hesitate to move on to verse 6 straightaway.
In writing my posts I have been trying to be practical. I was seeking to describe what love would be like. Generally, I kept to the basics.
If we begin to reflect our attitudes, words and behaviours this already may help us to change and to improve. Yet Christian love as described in the bible is more than a spiritual exercise. Truly Christian love is more than an ethical effort of self-improvement.
To the apostle Paul love has much to do with the Holy Spirit in his life. In Galatians 5:22 he describes love as the fruit of the Holy Spirit. In Romans 5:5 he says that God pours his love into the heart of a believer through the Holy Spirit. In 2 Timothy 1:7 he calls the Holy Spirit a spirit of love.
This means the message of Pentecost is very important to anybody who really wants to come to the heart of Christian love. God wants to change our lives through his own Spirit.
As the influence of the Holy Spirit shows in our hearts, we will learn something of God’s own attitude towards men. God’s way of thinking will begin to affect our own mindset.
First of all, God is the creator of all humankind. He is not only interested in you and in me. He is carrying a concern for all men. All men are His. He loves everyone. He still sees some traits of his original intent for man in all of us.
Secondly, God did not want us to perish in our false and selfish ways. He took great effort to give us a second chance. When on earth, Jesus did not only help and teach his contemporaries, he even has laid down his own life for us all. He wanted to open up a way for us into a restored relationship of trust towards God. This culminates in the giving and receiving of the Holy Spirit.