A pastor was once privileged to lead a church large enough to have a bus route, evening Bible institute, and assistant pastor to work with the teens. It wasn’t long after the assistant pastor arrived that he began to see glaring chinks in the senior pastor’s armor of daily righteousness. This senior pastor frequently lost his temper with adults who sought to minister with him. He often yelled at, or refused to speak to, co-workers, frequently had his wife in tears, sometimes slammed bus children into the wall when they misbehaved, and alienated virtually everyone around him. Nonetheless, he was a tireless and fairly capable worker. But, sadly, after awhile it didn’t matter how hard he worked. He became ineffectual and lost his ministry.
While the above is somewhat of an extreme example, there is a vital lesson for all of us to remember from this true account. In I Corinthians 13:1-3, the Apostle Paul warns believers that spiritual ministry without love is utterly meaningless and unprofitable. He explains that having the miraculous gift of speaking in an unknown language, but doing so without love is nothing more than meaningless noise. If without love, Paul said, “I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal” (vs. 1). Paul explains that if he had the capability of “prophecy [meaning eloquence in proclaiming the truth], and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge and…have all faith…and have not love, I am nothing” (vs. 2). Some in Paul’s day who possessed these miraculous gifts needed to know their show of ministry had a hollow ring. Then, and now, one might think great abilities make them important, but God measures His servants not by talent, but love. Unless we have love, we are in reality a big zero. In verse 3, Paul adds, “though I bestow all my goods…and give my body to be burned… it profiteth me nothing.” That must have been a shocking statement to some who were being impoverished and martyred. Unless they did so with real love, they would receive no eternal reward. This should also speak to us today. No matter how much we work or sacrifice, God will not reward us unless we are permeated with love. These sobering truths should cause us to rethink the condition of our heart. Above every other quality or capability, love reigns supreme. Verse 13 tells us the greatest capability is genuine love.
Why not pause right now asking the Lord to help you grow, and consistently demonstrate real love to everyone.
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