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First Reason

Because I prefer that which is “more excellent”* (1 Corinthians 12:31)—LOVE.

I prefer Him, the Comforter, rather than the gifts He distributes. I would rather have the 13th chapter of First Corinthians in my heart and life than the 14th. And since perfect love is the best, the greatest, the most enduring, and the most sadly lacking thing in the world, I am kept busy seeking more of it. Brother, have you graduated in this respect? Have you that love that “suffereth long, and is kind”* (1 Corinthians 13:4)? Some can suffer long but are not always kind. This love will inspire you with tender affection toward the one who knowingly injures you; and amid it all you will manifest a sweet spirit in every look and tone of voice. 1 Peter 3:8-9 says, “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous. Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing: knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.” Do you always do this?

LOVE “envieth not.”* (1 Corinthians 13:4) Do you ever feel a secret spirit of envy or prejudice shut up in your heart? A jealous feeling when another becomes noticed and appreciated more than you? An unpleasant sensation in view of the great prosperity and success of another? Have you ever felt secretly pleased when another more gifted than yourself made a failure? Do you ever find yourself dwelling upon such a person’s faults rather than his virtues? Do not mistake these for temptations. They look like the traits of carnality.

LOVE “vaunteth not itself.”* (1 Corinthians 13:4) “Acteth not rashly in a violent, headstrong manner, nor passes any rash or severe judgment”1 on the most guilty person. Its possessor is not harsh or pressing in his manner. When contradicted or put in a wrong light, he bears it with meekness rather than uses many words to excuse or clear himself. He is slow to speak, slow to accuse, easily convinced when in fault, and quick to ask forgiveness. How is it with you?


John Wesley; A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, “Farther Thoughts on Christian Perfection”

LOVE “is not puffed up.”* (1 Corinthians 13:4) Do you ever feel exalted and important because of your success or position? Do you feel hurt when set aside and unnoticed? Do you love to speak of your special successes in preaching or praying, and thus draw attention to self? Do you feel humbled or lifted up when praised and preferred above others? In short, are you dead to self? “So dead that no desires arise / To appear good or great or wise / In any but your Savior’s eyes”?

LOVE “Doth not behave itself unseemly.”* (1 Corinthians 13:5) If you have this love you are careful to avoid all behavior that you think might grieve or be a source of temptation to another. You will be especially careful toward those of the opposite sex. You will leave every home as pure as you found it. Your only object will be to seek their good. Do you always do this?

LOVE “seeketh not her own.”* (1 Corinthians 13:5) This love will do away with selfishness of all kinds. In eating, sleeping, riding, etc., whether at home or abroad, its possessor continually practices self-denial, doing to others as he would be done by. He seeks to promote the interests and happiness of others as sincerely as his own, though it may not be appreciated or returned. This is your experience if you have perfect love.

LOVE “is not easily provoked.”* (1 Corinthians 13:5) When under pressure or in a hurry, do you feel impatience stir at the ignorance, slowness, or stubbornness of others? (Do not excuse it as nervousness, temptation, or holy indignation.) Do you complain in the midst of pain or poverty? Are you touchy and sensitive, especially when something contemptuous is said or done against your church, nationality, or political party? If so, that looks very much like carnality and must be cast out before love can reign without a rival.

LOVE “thinketh no evil.”* (1 Corinthians 13:5) This will do away with all uncharitable suspicions. Do you ever find yourself surmising that another has done wrong when you do not positively know it to be so?

LOVE “Rejoiceth not in iniquity.”* (1 Corinthians 13:6) If you possess this love you never have a feeling of satisfaction in hearing or speaking (even in a truthful and warning manner) of the inconsistencies of others. You do not only weep over the sins and follies of an enemy, take no pleasure in repeating or hearing his faults mentioned, but you desire that they should be forgotten forever.

LOVE “Rejoiceth in the truth.”* (1 Corinthians 13:6) Is not sectarian or bigoted, but rejoices just as much over the salvation of souls in the midst of others as if it were in your own ranks. “Rejoices to find that even those who oppose you, whether with regard to opinions or some points of practice, are lovers of God, and in other respects unreprovable.”2


John Wesley; Sermons on Several Occasions, “Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5:5-7”

“Beareth all things.”* (1 Corinthians 13:7) Covers a multitude of sins, mistakes, imperfections and weaknesses of another; speaks evil of no man.

“Believeth all things.”* (1 Corinthians 13:7) Always willing to think the best, to put the most favorable construction on everything that may tend to the advantage of another’s character.

“Hopeth all things.”* (1 Corinthians 13:7) On being informed of the faults or failures of another, perfect love hopes it is not so bad after all.

“Endureth all things.”* (1 Corinthians 13:7) Endures with “unwearied patience anything that God can permit, or men and devils inflict.”3


John Wesley; A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, “Farther Thoughts on Christian Perfection”

Do you possess this love? Nothing short of it will enable you to penetrate through the awful pride, lust, and unbelief of this twentieth century. Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels (or an unknown tongue) and have not love, I am only an irritating noise.

Now, since I cannot have all the gifts at the same time, I would rather have this one gift of grace all the time. Would you?