Quick Insight: Love is the Goal. Strengths are a Means.

It can be tempting to elevate your strengths. After all, God gave them to you as a gift and every good gift is from above. Right?

But when you elevate your strengths above needs (“I can’t do that – it’s not my strength”)… or use them as a justification (“that’s not the way I’m wired”) … or even give yourself a pass because you are gifted in a certain way (“that’s not my gift”) …  then you place a higher value on your strengths than on the bigger picture.

That can be a dangerous place.

Here’s an Insight

Love is your goal. Strengths are a means.

Helping hands: love is the goal, strengths are a means.“Let love be your highest goal!” (1 Corinthians 14:1, NLT)

That exhortation comes from Paul – a culmination after he used an entire chapter to explain how God has gifted each of us with specific strengths (1 Corinthians 12) … and then another entire chapter to explain the most excellent way to use those strengths (1 Corinthians 13).

Paul didn’t say, “Your highest goal is to use your strengths.”

Instead, Paul’s mandate is to pursue the way of love.

So Why the Fuss about Strengths?

Think about what happens when you get hung up on “doing your thing” – using your strengths. When you insist “that is just the way I’m wired,” your goal is to use your strengths to satisfy yourself or to be comfortable or to be validated. You could even be viewing your strengths as an idol, rather than a tool.

In this case, you may be viewing your strengths inappropriately.

But when you focus on love as your highest goal, then you get creative. You find all kinds of ways to use your strengths in service of love. You combine your strengths with others to show love. You innovate.

In this scenario, you’re likely viewing your strengths in proper alignment.

So why did Paul spend so much time explaining strengths?

In order that we use them as a means to the highest calling: love.

Strengths are one means to that end.

Now How Should I Live?

Read different versions of 1 Corinthians 14:1. What do you learn about love as your goal?

  • Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts (ESV).
  • Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit (NIV).
  • Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives (NLT).
  • Pursue [this] love [with eagerness, make it your goal], yet earnestly desire and cultivate the spiritual gifts [to be used by believers for the benefit of the church] (AMP)

More about Love and Strengths

Insight: Good News for When You Don’t “Feel Love”

Insight: Which of Your Strengths Is on Paul’s Love List?

Insight: Know the Truth About Love