Friday, July 8, 2011

Are you devoted to the work of the Lord?

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

“Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build.”
(Psalm 127)

“Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Your every act should be done with love.”
(1 Corinthians 16:13)

Is the work you do centered on the Lord? Do you devote all you do to the Lord?

It doesn’t matter if you are a volunteer, in a paid ministry position, or if you work in a factory, academic setting or are a stay-at-home mom. Every day we are given the gift of a new day. Some of those days will be exciting and fulfilling, others will be full of suffering and frustration. But in each of these days, given to us by our Creator, we have the opportunity to act with love. And whenever we act with love, “our labor is not in vain.”

It is very easy to forget as we manage calendars and activities, that primary to it all is our devotion to the spread of the Gospel. This is not only the work of ordained ministers, but of every layperson as well. In our words and actions we must be firm and steadfast in this singular purpose—drawing others to Christ. It can, and should, penetrate every part of our life.

Of course, under this foundational purpose is St. Paul’s admonition that “every act should be done with love.” The reason he stresses this is because no matter how much we do, or how successful it seems we are, if we act without love, it means nothing.

Take a moment today and reflect on your life. Do you feel like you are laboring in vain? If so, it could be that you have not taken seriously St. Paul’s admonition to be “fully devoted to the work of the Lord.”

What might you do differently today that could change that?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Working in Love

I was asked to read for my niece’s wedding recently and was given the familiar passage from 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a about love. The danger of familiarity with scripture is that we can overlook its beauty without much consideration, but this passage is worth pausing for.

It begins with St. Paul saying:

“If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.”

Then he goes on to describe more gifts we may have, highlighting the fact that they are nothing without love. I may have the gift of prophecy, or comprehend all mysteries and knowledge and even have great faith, but without love, it is all meaningless. Maybe I give away everything I own, still, it is nothing without love.

That’s because it is not our sacrificial actions that are important. God doesn’t need these from us to save the world, because Jesus did all there is to do. We don’t save anyone.

What we can do, though, is cooperate with God.

What does God want me to do today? In this situation? For this person? How can I work with God today and be of some help in passing along the Good News?

One of the interesting things about being a “doing” people, is that while our hearts may be in the right place, we cannot overlook the reality that it feels good. Doing, can stroke our ego. It can make us feel important. That’s okay and nice, but if that is our motivation, then we are off track, because our motivation must always be our love of God, not any self-interest.

Be careful that you do not have potholes in your life that swallow up your love. St. Paul says that “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated. It is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury.”

These things are the exact opposite of love.

Our work is not the thing. The love with which we do it is.

God bless,