“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
(1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV)
Although we recognize that God has given to each of us gifts and talents, we often fail to use them in his service. We sit back and receive the service of others, who use their God-given gifts to bless us. But we are unwilling to serve and bless others with the gifts entrusted to us.
Yet, even when we do use them, our motives are often wrong. And, because they are wrong, we end up serving with a wrong spirit. Our service is motivated by our sinful nature.
We often serve God and one another out of a sense of guilt. We often serve God and one another out of a sense of duty. We sometimes serve God and one other in an effort to make a name for ourselves. And we sometimes serve in an effort to curry the favor of God and man.
However, as Paul tells us in the above passage, our gifts mean nothing and accomplish nothing if they are not used in a spirit of love. And, as is characteristic in Scripture, the love to which we are called in an unconditional love. The love to which we are called is a sacrificial love.
If our gifts are used apart from this love, we are only making noise. If our gifts give us great abilities, and we are without this love, we are nothing. And if we sacrifice ourselves completely, but do so without this love, we gain nothing.
God has certainly granted us these abilities and called on us to use them. But the underlying motive in their use must be love. We must serve out of our love for God, and out of love for our neighbor. We must unconditionally and sacrificially give of ourselves that we might accomplish God’s purpose and that we might be a blessing to those around us.
Because we are sinful creatures, we will naturally struggle with selfishness and impure motives. This is an ongoing battle. And, for this reason, we must always search our heart to evaluate our motives. We must always ask God to search us and reveal to us any impurity that’s directing our actions.
When it’s found that we are acting out of anything other than love, we must repent. We must look to Christ, in faith, seeking God’s mercy. And we must ask him to fill our heart with his love, that it might overflow into the lives of others. After all, this love is a gift of his grace. We must ask him to fill us with love so that, in our service, we might seek only to glorify him and bless those in our path.