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.