Motivated by Love
“If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:3
1 Corinthians chapter 13 is perhaps one of the most-quoted and widely recognized passages in the Bible. It has been deemed, “The Love Chapter” by many, and can be heard commonly during wedding ceremonies. When we look at this chapter, however, in the context of Paul’s whole letter to the Church at Corinth, it takes on a deeper meaning. Chapter 13 alone is full of beautiful words; but the reality of what God is saying in this passage is vital to living a life that pleases God.
This chapter is sandwiched between two chapters that deal with spiritual gifts. Right in the middle of discussing what is outwardly seen, Paul seems to stop and redirect our attention to that which only God sees – the motives behind our actions. God has indeed gifted His people with some amazing gifts – prophecy, teaching, tongues, healing, knowledge, faith, and giving. He has given believers the supernatural ability to do mighty works in His Name and for His glory. And yet, in chapter 13 we find a warning of sorts. It doesn’t matter how great the deed – if it’s not done in love, we gain nothing; we are nothing.
Nothing…really? That is hard to wrap our minds around, isn’t it? The truth is that God is greatly concerned not only with what we do, but also with why we do it. The mark of a true Christ follower is that he is motivated by love. It is not actions, but affection that sets him apart. It is no coincidence that love is the first fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23.
This love is not something we can muster up on our own. In the Greek, it is agape, which is the kind of love that goes against the flesh. It is given without expecting anything in return. Agape is based on the deliberate choice of the one who loves rather than the worthiness of the one who is loved.
Does this sound familiar? It is the same love that has rescued and redeemed our souls. This love is only possible in Christ. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…” (John 3:16). “A new command I give you. Love one another as I have loved you…” (John 13:34). “Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us…” (Ephesians 5:2). “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
It does not matter what we do. If we do not love…agape…we gain nothing.
Dear Father, Please show me how to love others today. May everything I think, do and say flow out of deep love for You and for others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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