September 3

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If 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. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

This is the chapter on love. The previous chapter is about the gifts of the Spirit, and it ends with Paul declaring that he will show us a more excellent way. The verses above follow that declaration. Paul is saying that no matter how gifted we are, love is an essential ingredient.

If we have a gift of heavenly or earthly languages but do not have love, our words will be just a bunch of noise. It is the love of God through the gift that powerfully affects lives. When you share with people you meet, if love is not the motivating power, not just love for God but God's love for them as well, then your words will have little or no affect. It is the unconditional love of God for them that causes the words to grip their minds and hearts.

If you have a gift to hear what God would have you speak to others, and understand the mysteries in God's word, and know a mountain of information about the work of God, it will be fruitless without love. Even if you have faith that can cause mountains to move, if love is not behind it, you really are nothing. Is this also telling us that there are those who have these great gifts that impress people, but their lives amount to nothing lasting?

There are many actions in the world that appear to be genuine goodness. Could a person actually give up his possessions and even his life and it not have the motivation of genuine love? Paul says, "Yes!" "Good" works gain us nothing if they are not done out of the love of God. The lesson is to seek to have our hearts overflowing with love so that the expressions of our gifts will bear fruit that lasts.

Remember: Is the genuine unselfish love of God motivating you?