If I were to ask you about something that is common at the majority of Christian weddings, what would come to your mind? Maybe the reading of a certain chapter? In 1 Corinthians? Say chapter 13? That’s right, the “love chapter.” Admittedly, I couldn’t remember if we had it read at our wedding but a quick check with Amy confirms that we too had this chapter read aloud during our wedding ceremony.
It certainly does seem fitting for a chapter about love to be a central part of a Christian wedding. But how about outside that particular ceremony? As we meditate on this chapter, I think we will all agree that it is a good reminder for us, no matter if single or years removed from that special day. Let’s take a look at the first 3 verses, which read, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”
I believe the practical application of this passage deals with the motive, the “why” of what we do in Christian service. Paul lists various spiritual gifts and says that if they aren’t done in love than they don’t have any real spiritual profit. Verse 3 is one that really stands out to me. Paul says that if I literally give all of my physical goods to feed the poor or give my body to be burned, perhaps a general phrase to indicate any physical hardship, but don’t do it out of love then it is of no spiritual profit. If I am doing any of these things for any other reason besides genuine love then I am wasting my time (spiritually speaking). Think with me for a minute about the areas of service that you may be involved with. Why do you do those things? Is there perhaps a selfish motive? Or maybe a less nefarious motive such as simply enjoying that particular service or activity. 1 Corinthians 13 is a good reminder for all of us that any act of Christian service needs to be saturated in a heart of genuine love for the people that we are ministering too.