This passage gives us a practical and straightforward blueprint of what Christ-like love should look like.
1 Corinthians 12:31b- 13:13
And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
13 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. 2 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. 3 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.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Is see that this passage tells us that no matter what we do, no matter how ‘Christian-like’ the actions might be, that without love, the actions are worthless. This is not to say that giving to the poor and serving others are worthless (they are in fact very important), rather, this passage looks at the deeper motivation of these actions and the intent of our hearts when we serve and give. After all, how are we modelling Jesus’ love to others if we give to the poor but boast about it and pride ourselves on our generosity?
As Christians, we are called to live a life of love. Love for our Christian brothers and sisters. Love for those outside the church. Those who have strayed from the hope and light that Jesus provides and those who are steadfastly clinging to their faith in Jesus through all life ups and downs. Now this love is not just an ordinary, worldly love, but a love modelled on Jesus sacrificial, earth shattering love. When Jesus loved others, he gave to the poor, but did not boast. He showed incredible wisdom but always loved others first. Verses 4-7 of chapter 13 give us a practical and straightforward blueprint of what Christ-like love should look like.
This can also be applied to us as we serve each other in Church. No matter how big or small of a role we play, whether we get up on stage every week to lead the congregation in worship or whether we look after the smallest members of our congregation in creche so their parents can take part in church undisturbed, we all make up the body of Christ and our role is so, so important. Therefore, when we serve in church, we should not serve because it will make us ‘look good’ or because it is the ‘next step’ but because we love others, and seek to demonstrate the love that Jesus has for everybody through our thoughts and actions.
Head: Re-read verses 4-7. What are the characteristics of Jesus that we can see in these verses?
Heart: This passage gives us a blueprint of how our actions should look and the condition of our heart as we live our lives and serve our church. How do you feel when you serve?
Hands: Have a think about how you might serve your Church family. Think beyond what you might consider your skills to what would best benefit your Church family. What is one way you could lovingly serve your church family this week?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank you for your grace and love. Thankyou for the gifts you give us and the opportunities we get to use them, to serve you. We are sorry that sometimes we use these gifts for our own benefit. Please help us to graciously use these gifts to show others the love you have for us. In your name, and through the power of the spirit, amen.
A Song to Listen to: When I Survey