NBC SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON FOR OCTOBER 25, 2020 : TOPIC – THE MOST EXCELLENT WAY
NBC SUNDAY SCHOOL OUTLINE
OCTOBER 24, 2020
THE MOST EXCELLENT WAY
Devotional Reading: Romans 12:9-21
Background Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:27–14:1
Lesson Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13
And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
Primary Learning Outcome/Indicators
Learners will know that God has commanded us to love one another as He loves us and indicate achievement of this by:
• Identifying and discussing the characteristics of love as used in the passage
• Discussing why some people do not love, even though they have the gift of speaking in tongues
• State three reasons why Paul preferred love to the gift of speaking in tongues.
Sister Grace Adado is one of the Baptist Students’ Fellowship (BSF) members. She was made the prayer coordinator during her final year in the university. She was able to coordinate the prayer meeting of the fellowship so much that more members became interested and attended regularly. Regular schedule was planned to enable members to lead each prayer session, as it was their structure. Everyone praised sister Grace for her creativity since she assumed office as the coordinator. However, she became arrogant because of her giftedness in speaking in tongues __ she felt that it is the most important of all spiritual gifts. She speaks in tongues at will sometimes to prove her spiritual maturity. Therefore, she sees herself as more spiritually mature than other members of the fellowship, despite the effort of the campus pastor to make her realise that all spiritual gifts have equal value except love that supersedes others, according to Paul. This attitude later resulted in division in the fellowship until God intervened and with humility, Sister Grace accepted her fault and asked for prayers from the members.
The problem of Sister Grace is similar to that of the Christians in Corinth. Some of them claimed that the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues is more important than others. In his letter to them, Paul wrote to address the issue that all spiritual gifts have equal value except love, which is eternal but others are temporary. In other words, all other gifts will cease with time but the gift of love is endless. To him, the most important gifts are those that contribute to the good of all (1 Corinthians 12:7). Today’s lesson is centred on the most excellent way to prove our love for God and our fellow brethren.
THE LESSON EXPLAINED
A. THE FUTILITY OF SERVICE WITHOUT LOVE 1 CORINTHIANS 13:1-3
In the previous chapter, Apostle Paul listed the various spiritual endowments, which the Holy Spirit gives to God’s people. The subject matter is so important that he repeated it in his letter to the church in Ephesus so that the body of Christ will be built up in the knowledge and development of the character of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). The issue of spiritual gifts was causing division in the Corinthian Church, with believers rating their gifts (speaking in tongues) as superior to the gifts of others. In order to correct the misconception, Paul wrote to them and explained the importance of all the gifts. According to verses 1 to 3, he exaggerated the futility of seeking virtue without love, which is supreme. He used some figurative symbols like resounding gong or clangin cymbals to represent the ineffectiveness of their spiritual gifts, if they do not have love. These musical instruments are known for reverberation whenever they are played. In essence, the manifestation of their so called treasured gifts means nothing if it is not motivated by love. Thus he ended verses 2 and 3 with a phrase, “I gain nothing.”
The Corinthian Church was greatly endowed with different spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, prophecy, knowledge, faith, giving, etc. As important as these gifts are, Paul affirmed that their services or religion is meaningless, irrespective of their spiritual gifts, if they do not have love for one another, as God loves them. Like the case of Sister Grace, many Christians are zealous for the things of God, they speak in tongues, give, prophesy and manifest their spiritual gifts but they do not love. Such people do not have the fruit of the spirit or love for others because they do not know God. The author of 1 John said, everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7b). Some people unnecessarily place emphasis on other aspects of their spiritual gifts and undermine love, which is supreme. This attitude stands in contrast with the true meaning of love for God and humankind, which Paul emphasised in his letter. However, Paul did not play down the importance of the other gifts; after all, he himself excels in speaking in tongues but it does not top the list on his scale of values.
1. Discuss the reason most people celebrate the gifts of the Spirit more than the fruit of the Spirit.
2. If you are given the opportunity to make a choice of the gifts you desire most, which one will you choose and why?
3. Why is love considered as the most important attribute in Christian service?
B. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF TRUE LOVE. 1 CORINTHIANS 13:4-8
In continuation on the discussion of the importance of love as the most valuable attribute, Apostle Paul enumerated the features of love for the sake of emphasis. From verse 4, he described them both positively and negatively. He said love is:
• Patient and kind. It does not envy, boast, neither is it proud. This means anyone who loves is good-natured, gentle, tender, and such does not have the desire to revenge because of the enduring nature of love.
• Not rude, self-seeking, not easily angered or keeps record of wrongdoing. On the contrary, those who have love are polite and do not delight in keeping record of wrongdoings.
• It does not delight in evil but rejoices when the truth prevails.
• It possesses the ability to protect, always trusts, hopes and perseveres, no matter the provocation.
• It does not fail because it is not partial in nature like the gifts of prophecy, speaking in tongues and knowledge that are temporal in nature. By implication, love will continue to be in existence till eternity.
The importance of love in the life of a Christian cannot be over-emphasised, especially when we consider the features as discussed above. More importantly, one of the benefits of love when it is manifested is that it shows itself in the way mature Christians deal with disagreements and disunity in the church, especially the fact that the person concerned is not easily provoked or self-seeking.
1. Discuss the effects of the manifestation of true love in your church and how to sustain it.
C. THE GREATNESS OF LOVE . 1 CORINTHIANS 13:9-13
Apostle Paul concluded his letter with an admonition to the Corinthians to maintain the most excellent way. He gave an illustration of this in verse 9 that our gifts of knowledge and inspired messages are only partial and they will disappear when the perfect comes. He means that when Christ returns and God’s saving work is finished (Philippians 1:6), there will no longer be need for the use of spiritual gifts to build up the church. According to verse 11, he gave another beautiful picture of his spiritual maturity. He said, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” He likens what we see presently with an image in a mirror but with a promise to see face to face probably at the judgment day when Christ shall return. However, three things will remain: faith, hope and love and the greatest of them is love because it will endure till eternity and thus it is the most excellent way.
Paul’s conclusion about love as the greatest of the three spiritual gifts is worth mentioning. It is the most important virtue that exerts a wider influence and its ability to overcome evil, protect and endure. Faith and hope rather pertain to individuals but love helps us to relate with God and humankind in the larger society. Love is, therefore, more important than all other graces and endowments like the gifts of prophecy and miracles, speaking in tongues and knowledge. It will outlive all the other gifts, even though they temporarily co-exist. For these reasons, the gift of love is more preferable to Paul than all other gifts, which almost caused disunity in the church before his letter.
1. Discuss the earthly and eternal benefits in the manifestation of true love as described in the passage.
2. Why did Paul say the gift of love matters to him more than other spiritual gifts?
Commitment Based on Today’s Lesson
My Personal Commitment__________________
Commitment to My Church__________________
Commitment towards My Relationship with Others____________
• Lord, help me to manifest the gift of love to others, in Jesus’ Name.
• Increase my love for You and others around me, O Lord.
• Lord, help me to put away every childish attitude and begin to use my gifts for the good of others.
Fellowship Building Activity
• Let the class members list the different gifts they have and describe how such gifts can be used selfishly or for the good of others.
• Believers should covet the most excellent gift of love for one another.
• Where there is love, there is always unity and progress.
• True love is an attribute of God.
• The gift of love is eternal in nature.
• Only those who manifest true love will enjoy eternal life.
• Believers should strive to use their spiritual gifts for the good of all.
• Love will remain, even when our faith and hope are weak.