” If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
My interpretation I’m pretty sure of: If my days are filled with efforts to become a holy person, thinking that when I succeed in doing these efforts well, I will step up a notch on the holiness scale, so I will be a better human being, then it’s of no account spiritually because I’ve made the act (of sacrificing) about ME. I’m doing it to try to be a good person by my actions. Not as much because I love the other person. It’s a tricky, subtle form of self-centeredness.
But, at the same time, God already has commanded that I’m as perfect as Jesus even with NO good works mixed in. In other words, I can’t be any holier (better, more righteous, etc.) than I already am. No good work will make me more so. Now, once I believe that and that I don’t need to do anything “good” in order to qualify as a perfect person, then the fruit of the Spirit will grow big love in me so I will do things like giving, sacrificing, etc. But, it’s out of love, not out of an attempt to be holy (which is impossible by our efforts, anyway). I’m working on living every day in the realization that I don’t need to do any of the works/jobs that come along and beg me to do them in order to be a good (holy) person. God has given me the freedom to say yes or no and he won’t judge me but will bless me regardless of my choice. This is why Jesus says his burden (yolk) is light. When we put on the yolk out of love not obligation, the burden is strangely light.
If you start to experiment with saying no to efforts you could do but choose to not do because of what I’ve written above, you will have thoughts that accuse and attack you all the time. You’ll need to know and continuously rehearse (i.e., repeat or meditate upon) the Truths of God that we are free from obligation.
Remember that God likes a cheerful (hilarious) giver. He doesn’t want our sacrifice if it’s under any form of compulsion. This is not just true about money, but about our deeds and efforts, too.
You’ll be surprised how many “works” you really DESIRE to do JOYFULLY once you realize you gain no “credit” of any sort by doing them because (1) you can’t be better than God has already declared you are (2) if you decline to do a certain “work”, it will not affect how God evaluates you even a little bit!!!
Now, go through your day realizing you’re already as holy and loving and worthwhile and valuable and loved as Jesus so you don’t need to do any more. You aren’t under obligation. Paul said in 1 Corinthians: “Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me; but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things).”