“And the greatest of these is Love.”

That’s a good one. A beauty . . . and most definitely a sentiment that all the world round has revered, cheered over, and coveted in both good and rough times. It’s also the first thing that comes to mind when I think of the prophetic.

Surprisingly, seldom noted is the fact that this famous line is smack in the middle of two chapters about spiritual gifts. It’s like this power-packed page makes you completely forget the subject is actually the gifts, and specifically, prophecy. To go a step further, I have heard it said that we should be able to substitute the word ‘prophetic’ for the word Love in each instance in 1 Corinthians 13. Lets try this . . .

The prophetic is patient. The prophetic is kind. The prophetic does not envy, it does not boast. The prophetic is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered. The prophetic does not delight in evil. The prophetic always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. It also never fails.

Wow. Those are both fighting words and a beautiful melody all in one. How powerful must this gift be that it could be called to the highest standard of love. Without it, prophecy is a clanging cymbal, worth nothing, gaining nothing. I almost don’t know what to do with those words and yet that’s what it says.

When I think of maturity in the prophetic, honestly what comes to mind first has a lot more to do with the quality of the word specifically. Is it in the future? How far in the future? Did the person receiving the word feel the word’s power? Had they heard the word 50 times before? Or never before?

And yet, it seems like those things are incapable measurements if the word isn’t bathed and battered in a pure, unadulterated love.

I’m starting to wonder if the quality of the word is multiplied and expanded when there is kindness added in. Or patience. Maybe the test is if there was honor? Or if hope was released? Maybe it’s the level of love that acts and actually causes words to come to pass? I’ve never thought of that, but in the delivery, did our words express the heart of our unbelievably loving Father? The kind of love we can hardly fathom. Is that the magic blend that creates an anointed word like nothing else . . . a maturity that stands out among others.

A mentor of mine says often that I am a good lover of people so it’s no trouble for me to prophesy. That’s just gold. Pure gold. Sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s God who wants to bless and love others with the prophetic. He is the gift-giver and he’s simply using me to pass along the gift of words! The more I do this, the more I realize it has very (very) little to do with me. I’m simply leaning in, listening, and relaying what I’ve heard the best I know how. And then hopefully, the prophecy is given with great love, endless patience, overwhelming kindness, and unwavering belief.

Faith and hope remain. The prophetic is my absolute favorite, but the greatest of these is love.

By Mary Hawblitzel