We are currently having Trouble with Zoom. Please standby for updates...


Motivated by Love Part 1
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2And 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, but have not love, I am nothing. 3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Agape is defined as benevolence; charity; dear love. It is the quality of a self-less love which considers others before oneself. Agape distinguishes itself from all other forms of love mentioned in Greek (Storgi, Eros, and Phileo) in terms of its unconditional nature. So unique was this love to the 1st century world that the Greeks had to newly add it to their vocabulary based on the witness of the New Testament apostles.
As we examine the first 3 verses of 1 Corinthians 13, we see just how great a moving force love is compared to everything else. First off, Paul mentions the speaking in tongues of men and of angels in comparison to love. Tongues is a great sign gift of the Holy Spirit used to help testify to others, across different languages and cultures, of the gospel of God (Acts 2:3-12) for which even Paul mentioned later on that he wished all spoke with tongues (1 Corinthians 14:5). But ultimately, without love as the driving force, far from communicating of God’s goodness, it becomes an annoyance to all who hear it. Next, we see prophecy mentioned, which Paul commended as a greater gift than tongues (1 Corinthians 14:1), as well as the gifts of wisdom and knowledge. Now, it is through these gifts that God has communicated His will to mankind and that ultimately His Word was made plain to mankind. But, as great and as necessary as these gifts are, they completely fail without love being at the forefront. We then see faith mentioned in this list. Now faith is necessary to bring us to a saving relationship with God; with just a mustard seed size we can remove mountains (Matthew 17:20), and without it we cannot hope to please God (Hebrews 11:6). But even still, without love behind it, this faith ultimately amounts to nothing. Finally, we see what we would describe as charitable deeds of giving our possessions to the poor, of which even Jesus urged the rich young ruler to do (Mark 10:17-22), and then even the offering of one’s own body as a sacrifice to God. But, without love, these deeds are nothing but wasted time and effort.
So why is it that, without love, none of these great gifts and qualities mean anything? Well since one of God’s core attributes (which He even describes Himself as being) is love (1 John 4:8), then it is clear that His love must permeate all that we do for Him and for others. Ultimately, it was love that drove Jesus to the cross to die for us and redeem us back to Him (John 3:16), it is love that motivates us to respond in turn to God (John 4:19), and it is love that distinguishes us as followers of Christ (John 13:35).
How is it even possible, then, that people could do these “charitable” acts, perform these signs and wonders, and have these great gifts without love being at the center? When we look at the world, false religions, and even some churches today, we see many of these same acts being performed, but without the love of Christ as the motivating force. Many of these acts are done for attention/praise and others are done as a form of works: to appease God or their guilty conscience, or to give them a sense of worth. All of these gifts/signs/acts can and have been motivated through selfish reasons and thus all of these works will come to nothing, actually resulting in a loss for those who are not motivated by the pure love of God. Matthew 7:21-23 warns us ominously of those who perform great works in God’s name but don’t know Him (and if you do not know love then you ultimately do not know God) and who were thus judged.
Reflection Questions:
1. What typically motivates me when I perform good works or use my gifts? Do I tend to perform these acts for selfish or selfless reasons? 
2. Would I be offended if others did not notice my works or if I were not rewarded for what I did? Consider a recent instance when a good deed performed went unnoticed; how did you respond?
3. Is God’s love for us motivation enough for me or do I find that I am searching for something more?
Pray that God would give you a greater understanding of just how deep and wide His love is for you, personally. Repent of (turn away from) deeds performed with a wrong motive. Ask that God would so consume you with His love, that it would become the driving force behind all that you think, say, and do. Thank Him for His agape love, which is most clearly evidenced in the sacrificial work of Christ Jesus on the cross.