In 1 Corinthians 12:27-31, Paul the apostle makes a statement. He states that we are members individually in the body of Christ.

Paul continues by asking a series of questions: Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

Then the chapter closes with Paul saying, I want to show you a more excellent way. See, if the spiritual gifts Paul addresses are God’s “bricks,” there is a “mortar” that holds the gifts together. Paul ends the chapter by saying: earnestly desire the best gifts; yet I want to show you a more excellent way. Chapter 13 reveals the more excellent way.

Most people understand that 1 Corinthians 13 is “The Love Chapter.” Many in the Western church have erroneously concluded that theology and love do not mix. On the other hand, God established in Revelations 2:1-4 that the two are not to be separated.

Dr. Harold Willington writes: “Theology without love leads to dead orthodoxy. Love without theology leads to outright heresy.” If we only read Chapter 12, we might always wonder, “what is the more excellent way?” Chapter 13 reveals that love is the more excellent way.

Paul begins Chapter 13 by saying without love, should I exercise the gift of tongues, I am nothing but noisy brass or clanging cymbals. If I employ the gift of prophecy without love, I am null and void. Should I have the gift to understand all mysteries but lack love, I will only come across as a know-it-all. I can possess all knowledge, but this gift is useless apart from love.

Paul says I can have mountain-moving faith, but faith is vanity devoid of love. Paul steps up the intensity by stating that I can give my life, dreams, ambitions, and even become a martyr — but it’s totally without merit when love is taken out of the equation. Someone once said that love, or the lack thereof, is at the root of everything.

We can look at our society and see what a lack of love produces. Paul was on to something when he said, let me show you a more excellent way. Paul understood the significance of love being at the “root” —love as the “mortar.”

The life application should be evident. Why do I work long hours? Well, any reason short of love, my efforts are for naught. If I say it is because I love my family and want to make life better for others, my long working hours take on value and purpose.

Why do I speak into the lives of others? Any reasons short of love, my speech becomes null and void. When my words are seasoned with love, they can become “life” and “assurance” to others. How about faith? Why do I share my faith? If I share my faith without love, my sharing is vanity. When I share my faith from a heart of love, it is received more sincerely.

If love is not at the “root” of all our work and the “mortar” which holds our efforts together, then ours is a very miserable, vain existence. Paul is correct; there is a more excellent way. Love is the more excellent way.

Chuck Hartman is pastor at Up River Friends and is reachable at