"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." 1 Corinthians 13:3
Jesus said of the Pharisees that they loved to stand on the street corner praying to receive the recognition of the people and in so doing, they had received their full reward here on earth. (Matthew 6:5) He said the same of the people who make it obvious they are fasting. (Matthew 6:16) Likewise with the Pharisee, who gave a large sum of money compared to the poor widow, who gave all she had. (Luke 21:2) His reward was the esteem of people, but not of God because his motives were wrong and impure. He did not fast or give or pray out of love for God or anyone else except himself.
Unfortunately, it was not only in Jesus’ day that people did their works to be seen by men and to be applauded for their so-call righteousness. The Bible says that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9), and indeed it is so. In our day people still flaunt their “generosity” and their “sacrifices” for the Lord, but God said obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22).
Just reading the verse without examining it makes it seem a bit confusing. How can I give all I have, including my life, and not have love? I suppose in a way, it is love, but not the love that God is calling us to – a genuine love for other people. Anything not motivated by putting others and their needs ahead of one’s own is motivated by self-love or the love of praise.
Be very careful of your motives in everything you do. Examine your heart; make sure that NOTHING is done from foolish ambition (Philippians 2:3) and the desire for exaltation--only from real, true, genuine humility and obedience--so that you may someday hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter the joy of your Master.” (Matthew 25:23) firstname.lastname@example.org
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