"I Just Want To Praise You"
In 1 Corinthians chapter 12, Paul begins to speak about how a Spirit-Filled church is supposed to operate. He starts out by describing the gifts of the Spirit and then abruptly shifts gears and speaks in earnest about the Agape Love of God in Chapter 13. Then in Chapter 14 he informs us that the gifts of the Spirit are supposed to operate through Spirit-Filled people who understand, defer to and walk in the Agape Love of God. In so doing, he is reminding the body of Christ, the church, that it isn't about us, but all about others.
Agape Love is the God-kind of love. Unconditional love and one that never ends.
In light of all of this, it's interesting to note that 1 Corinthians 14 starts off with a bang! "Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy."
The Word "pursue" is a very strong word in the Greek. Unfortunately, the King James Version doesn't put enough "teeth" into its translation of this word, by rendering it instead as the phrase "follow after." That's just way too weak of a translation of this dynamic and powerful word.
This word "pursue" means: to press hard after, to pursue with earnestness and diligence in order to obtain, to go after with the desire of obtaining. This word also means to persecute and to prosecute. Does that seem strange? It shouldn't. Think about it for a minute: someone who is going to persecute or prosecute someone, has a distinct purpose in mind and will not relent no matter what until they reach their objective. This is the idea or the depth of the type of pursuing that is implied here.
It's also important to note that the tense of this Greek word is in the present tense. Which, in the Greek, means: this is an action that is supposed to be continually on-going, and continually happening. In other words, we are to be pursuing Agape Love continually while we are here upon the earth. It should be our goal and our aim in life.
Interestingly enough, at the end of Chapter 13 Paul says: "And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is [Agape] love." Of these three attributes only Love is eternal. We won't need faith and hope when we get to heaven, we will be experiencing the manifestation, but Agape Love will continue forever and ever. After all, Agape Love is Who God is - 1 John 4:8, 16. So our pursuit of Agape Love should be continual and on-going as well.
This present tense action, speaks of the reality of this pursuit which is to take up residence within, become the ruling agent and define who we are in Him. We are supposed to be aligning all of who we are to the pursuit of Agape Love.
This makes so much sense when we realize that we, as being born-again men and women, are one with Him and He is Agape Love. That's right - He doesn't just have Agape Love - He IS Agape Love. Therefore, the Kingdom of God IS the Kingdom of Agape Love and the Word of God IS the Word of Agape Love. All of heaven is ruled by Agape Love, AND Agape Love always has been and Agape Love always will be. It's Who God IS, it's Who we are in, and it's Who is IN us.
This word "pursue" is also in the active voice, which means we are to initiate this action of pursuit - it's a responsibility, a mandate we are to take up and take hold of.
Also, the "mood" of this word is an imperative in the Greek, meaning it is a strong command. With deep understanding of the importance and ruling agent of Agape Love, Paul strongly commands us to become very proficient in Agape Love and to make Agape Love the ruling agent within our lives and our constant pursuit as we interact with others. Agape Love should be the foundation of all that we do.
When Paul wrote these epistle letters to the churches, there were no chapter breaks, or paragraph breaks with nice little subject headings like we have in our Bibles today. While these are nice to have, if were not careful, they can also break up the intended thought and cause us to compartmentalize sections of Scripture that were meant to flow together.
Such is the case here. When you take out the chapter break and allow Chapter 13 to continue to flow into this opening sentence in Chapter 14 it makes all the difference in the world when moving on to the operational gifts of the Spirit within the church.
1 Corinthians 13:13 - 14:1 - "And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. Pursue Love and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy."
It's as if Paul is shouting and pleading with the readers: "PURSUE LOVE - make this, not the gifts your primarly aim. You've got to get this, you've got to understand the importance of this. You need this foremost in your lives. It can't be minimalized or marginalized, Love needs to become the ruling factor and force within your lives - LISTEN TO WHAT I AM SAYING - as an Apostle, ordained by God, I am commanding you to make this your life-long pursuit - get a firm grip on Agape Love, AND desire spiritual gifts..."
Unfortunately, some of the church has often had the cart before the horse and has been in pursuit of spiritual gifts and has not had much of a desire to develop in Agape Love. We often think of Agape Love as passive and unattractive to our spiritual development. But nothing could be more further from the Truth. Agape Love is the strongest, most magnificent force that sould ever be - it's Who God is.
In the phrase "desire spiritual gifts" in 1 corinthians 14:1 - the word "desire" means to be zealous for and have a strong desire for, BUT it is NOT in a command form. Love NEEDS to be the ruling factor in our lives especially when functioning in spiritual gifts. THEN the action or the usage of the gifts is all about others, their well-being and edification, and not about us, and in this atmosphere of Agape Love He can thrive within His impartation of the gifts that brings forth His best for the church.
We call Jesus Lord, but very few actually know what the word "Lord" really means. The word Lord, in the Greek, is the word "Kurios" and literally means: Master, Owner, Controller and Decision Maker. Since God IS Agape Love, then we've got to ask the question: Is Agape Love our Master, our Owner, our Controller and our Decision Maker? I think you can agree with me that It's time for the church to grow up and Pursue Love!!!