Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 13:1-7
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have 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 do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Verses for Meditation: There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. – 1 John 4:18
Devotional: “… our fundamental orientation in worship should not be that of seeking to receive something that will be good for us, but seeking to bring greater benefit and advantage to others.” (The Pillar NT Commentary by Roy Ciampa).
As American Christians, who are constantly swimming in a sea of individualism, it is hard to come to worship and focus on loving others. It is too easy to focus on what we get out of worship or what we learn from that day’s sermon. Many of us, probably most of us, must reorient ourselves each week as we come to worship. Reorient ourselves, away from ourselves, toward God and other people. How do we do that? Love!
Paul makes it clear that the whole purpose of the spiritual gifts is to stir us up to love others. The Apostle John makes an interesting connection in the book of 1 John – there is no fear in love. Instead love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. So, by combining 1 Corinthians 13-14 with 1 John 4, we can see that when we come to worship, we must not give in to fear. In fear, we focus on ourselves and begin to feel punished. Our worship then becomes an act of duty to an angry God who tolerates us and needs to be appeased by our feeble sacrifice. In love, we take our eyes off ourselves, placing them on God and others. This unleashes the knowledge that we are in the presence of our Heavenly who loves and adores us. We are now his children surrounded by other members of our family. Love in this place becomes natural as we move and worship in the Spirit. We are perfected in love.
Question to Consider: How specifically is God calling you this week to use your spiritual gifts to love someone else? Remember to take a moment during this Sunday’s service to look around and see the other members of your family enjoying themselves in worship.