Today’s Scripture: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not 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 have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” I Corinthians 13:1-3
There is no emotion of greater importance than love. Paul’s incomparable treatise on this subject in 1 Corinthians 13 is sandwiched between two chapters that deal with spiritual gifts. The Corinthians focused too much on their display of such gifts, so the apostle showed them the “more excellent way” of love (I Corinthians 12:31). Interestingly, he made no attempt to define love but instead described its importance and expression.
The type of love which Paul is talking about is not human in origin, but rather a love coming from God—a part of His very nature. It’s unselfish, sacrificial love which acts on behalf of someone else. Since the Lord wants to transform our character into the image of His Son, this priority makes perfect sense, because whenever we display such selfless care for one another, that’s when we are the most like Christ.
The first three verses of this chapter issue us a warning. Without the motivation of love, all our good deeds—even service for the Lord—will profit us nothing. In God’s eyes, a loving spirit is more important than all our impressive words, knowledge, faith, generosity, and self-sacrifice. When we stand before Christ to be judged for our good works, those deeds done for selfish reasons will not be worthy of reward.
We are all blinded to some degree when it comes to our motives, so discerning why we serve God or do good deeds can be difficult. Pray to know your heart’s hidden intentions, and replace any self-centered motivations with His “more excellent way” of love. Then your works will be of eternal value.