Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Devotional - The Essence of Christianity

Good morning everyone. We had a great prayer meeting last night with a lot of assurance of answered prayer. I pray today will be a day of realized blessings for you. On to 1 Corinthians 13.

I do not think that there is another passage in the Bible that is appreciated by the world as much as this passage. I have heard it read at weddings for people who saw it as nothing more than poetry. It was on the wall of my homeroom in grade 10 as a great work of literature. Even as Christians we treat it as something magical. Yet, it was given to us as a description of Jesus' love so that we know that we have something to grow toward. I want to take this passage in three bite-sized sections. First:

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

This is a continuation from chapter 12 where Paul was talking about the various gifts of the Spirit and we all form one Body. He transitioned to love with this simple sentence:

And now I will show you the most excellent way.

It doesn't matter what gifts you have or what you do in the Church or in life, if it is not motivated by love it is all useless. In fact, it is impossible for the Church to function in the diversity of the gifts unless love is the motivation for everything we do. Look at the things Paul uses as an example; speaking in tongues which is a major thing in some churches. For some it is the measure of their level of spirituality. But that gift will not be the issue when we give an account for our life because the real issue will be whether we loved or not. Prophecy, faith, sacrifice, martyrdom, none of it matters a thing if we do not know how to love.

Those are some major things, faith and prayer. Imagine being the type of prayer warrior who can move mountains with prayer but then losing it all because you failed to love. Imagine believing so much that you were willing to sacrifice everything in your service, but then it not counting for anything because you did not possess love. Is it even possible? Yes it is. It is possible to do all the right things in serving God but failing to understand the whole purpose of everything because you did not understand your oblogation to love your neighbour. Remember the two commandments we are to govern our life by:

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Luke 10:27)

This is what we have been commanded to do and if we feel we do not have enough love then we ask for more. I am sure that most of us are willing to receive God's love and I am equally as sure that those who receive give back to our God. That is why we operate in the gifts of the Spirit, why we believe, why we sacrifice. But we forget that what we receive we are suppose to be sharing with others. We are suppose to love others with the same love we receive from God. Jesus said that the person who is forgiven for a lot of things returns a great deal of love. However that love is not suppose to just go up, it is suppose to go out. We are suppose to love in the same way we have been loved. But I get ahead of myself.

It is just that we can get so busy with everything in life that we forget what it is all about. What is the sense of operating in the gifts of the Spirit if we do not understand that their function is to love, their motivation is love, their purpose is love:

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:7)

Our motivation for everything in our life needs to be the same motivation Jesus had in his three year mission that led him to the cross: love. Love for the Father and love for people.

Tomorrow we will consider what that love looks like.

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