“If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” (1 Cor 13:3 MSG)
What would people say if you give all your money to the poor?
Many would applaud you. Others would say you are crazy.
Is this, however, truly a sign of love? What if we are only doing so to try and “earn” our grace (which, by the way, isn’t possible, for we are saved by grace…See Eph. 2:8)? What if we are simply being pious? What if we are showing off our “good deeds” to others? What if the act is totally void of love? If this is the case, then it is worth nothing at all.
And what about being a martyr? Wouldn’t burning in pain for God be a sign of true love?
Again, this would depend on our motivation. It could be done to show off. It could be done to try to earn Heaven. However, if love is not our primary motive, then it is all worth nothing at all.
I have to wonder if we truly know what love looks like. The apostle Paul concludes verse 3 of 1 Cor. 13 with these words: “So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” (MSG). Bankruptcy is when you lose everything you have. Paul isn’t talking about money here, however. He is saying that without love, we are already bankrupt!
Many years ago, I read a testimony of a priest, St. Jean de Brébeuf, who worked with the Huron peoples of North America. His work was successful, but unfortunately, diseases such as small pox soon began to rage throughout the first nations people. He and the other priests were blamed for the plague. In 1649 he was taken captive by the Iroquois people and was tortured for over three hours. St. Jean de Brébeuf never stopped preaching and singing hymns. His hope was to have at least one more native person give his or her life to Christ. This enraged the Iroquois even further, bringing on even worse torture. As Brebeuf continued to preach and sing, the Iroquois cut off his tongue and his lips before continuing their torture.
This priest was certainly courageous, and his love for God and for the native people was evident.
How can we say that we have love when we put down people? Can we truly love someone when we mock them? What if we ignore them? Does that show love? What about helping somoene mow their grass? Would that show love?
Oh, that we would be so filled with the love of God that every action is rooted and grounded in love! Pray with me and let us find what love truly is, for only true love with make a difference in someone’s life!
(To access the entire “God’s Love in YOU” devotional series, please click here.)