If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 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.
The apostle Paul opens up the “love chapter” (I Cor. 13) after telling his readers (seen in chapter 12) that he will now show "the most excellent way." He highlights some amazing gifts, as you saw yesterday, and essentially states that without love, they are meaningless.
The equation he suggests looks like this: Everything – love = nothing.
You can excel in speaking eloquently, understanding and sharing God’s Word with all wisdom, limitlessly trusting God, giving generously, sacrificially doing things for others, but it’s all meaningless if done without love.
Why do you suppose Paul places such heavy emphasis on love? Could it be that without love, nothing is genuine, nothing is enduring, nothing is pure?
Without a doubt many things can be accomplished and excelled at, but in God’s Kingdom love must exceed all things. Jesus himself said that the greatest of all commandments is to love God first and to love our neighbor as ourselves. The inference can be made then, that anything that we do must have love at its source; in other words, we must be motivated and compelled by love. Love is what lasts.
This can be challenging, can’t it? Sometimes it takes great self-awareness and self examination to determine what is motivating our responses and actions and whether we are truly motivated by love. What I want to make sure we understand is that it takes a reliance and openness to God’s Spirit to transform our hearts to love as Jesus loves. This does not come naturally, but it is a work of God.
Father, I am surrounded every day by others who do not know you. Help me to be a shining example of your love to them, just as you have loved me. I desire to be filled with your love more every day so that it fills me up and pours out of me to others, even those who aren’t always easy for me to love. Whether I am with people I know well or people I encounter only briefly, give me opportunities to tell them about the love you showed by sending your Son to die that we might live through Him. Let your words fill my lips with your story, for you are Love.
Today I would like to invite us to take a few moments to think about two or three things you have done or accomplished in the last few days. Examine your motivation. Some common motivations are fear, affirmation, power, greed, security.
Ask God to transform your heart to be motivated by love.
How might love compel you to act in toward someone today?