1 Corinthians 13:1-3 is the precursor of the greatest description of love written by the apostle Paul.
Verses 4-13 describes what Love is and what it is not. The part I’d like to highlight is the beginning of this chapter in verse one where it says in the NIV version that if we do these things without love we sound like a clanging cymbal.
My reason to highlight this is that so often we skip over what our responsibility is and just want the end product of feeling perfect love. The perfect love itself comes from God alone, we can’t fabricate it or manipulate it into being.
The first verses of 1 Corinthians 13 is our part. It is the part at which we decide to either be driven by ourselves and the good feelings we produce in our mind or driven by selfless Godly love for others.
Most of us have times when we chose to be kind, love someone unlovely or do a seemingly selfless act because it makes us feel good about our selves and it gives us a good story to tell.
Scripture tells us that we are like annoying clanging cymbals, just making noise, having no good purpose when we love this way.
I bring this up because during the Christmas season we often feel obligated to participate in service projects, giving of food baskets, tossing our extra change into the red buckets and participating in angel tree-type projects. For some it’s an obligation out of the “Christmas spirit”, or peer pressure to join in. For others, it warms their own heart to be generous.
What if the entire motive was up-ended and we participated not just during the Christmas season but all year long because of our deep gratitude for what God has done for us and truly out of a selfless heart, wanting only to bless the other person.
What does that look like in real life?
- - Pay attention around you and find an actual individual or family that is suffering and quietly or anonymously offer assistance. If it’s monetarily or actually showing up at their home to help in some way, expect nothing in return, not even a thank you, because you aren’t doing it to hear accolades and get a pat on the back, you are doing it out of compassion and love for them and their need alone.
- - In that same vein, if you are blessed with excess funds after your bills are paid, get some cash, write a card to someone in need, don’t sign it, and send it or drop it off without being found out. If you are unsure of who to give to, start by asking your church who might have needs.
- - Go to a nursing home and ask the front desk who the residents are that do not get family visitors. Join them for a meal at the home, play cards with them, talk with them and ask them about their life. Invest in someone that can give you nothing in return.
- - Go to a coffee shop, buy 4 coffees, deliver to the homeless. To go one step further, bring them a salvation tract. To go one step further than that, do it regularly.
- - Google search where your local orphanage is. Call them and find out what they might need. If you have children that have outgrown tons of stuffed animals, donate them. If you love to be creative and make things (blankets, scarves, mittens, hats, paint pictures, etc.) see if you can bless a child or two with a gift.
James 1:27 says pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
This is service to others out of selfless love.
They can do nothing in return for you.
To adopt this kind of love into your life, marriages and parenting style it requires us laying down our self-centered ideas of love and choosing to put into action Godly love instead.
Choose to love someone this way this Christmas season.