Caring About How We Do What We Do (1 Corinthians 13:4–13)
Relationships form a key element in the discipline of service because actions—even charitable, selfless deeds—can never be a substitute for love. Paul attested that even if he sacrificed his body and yet didn’t love others, he would “gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3). Since relationships develop along the way in life, we need to be mindful of how we do what we do.
Jesus understood this. When Mary anointed his feet with expensive perfume, Judas protested the seemingly wasteful use of the perfume, arguing that it could have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. But Jesus knew Mary’s heart. He praised her for preparing him for burial in this beautiful way (see John 12:1–8). Mary’s act was performed out of love for her Lord. Merely giving the money from the perfume to the poor would have been a meaningless act if she had no true concern for them.
Too often we pass right by people in our effort to get things done. Often we are more concerned with producing visible results than with caring for people. But even the most “spiritual” activities are pointless without love.
Putting It into Practice
Rewrite 1 Corinthians 13 in your own words, using specific references to your own situation. For example, a teacher may write, “Though my students obtain all the knowledge I can communicate to their minds, unless I reach their hearts with love, it is of little value.” A parent may write, “Though my family has all the food they can eat, if I don’t give them love, they will starve.” Then, determine specific ways to express such love as you go about your work and life.
Taken from NIV Spiritual Renewal Study Bible