In 1 Corinthians 13 it says that even if you give all your possessions to the poor and offer your body to be burned up, if it’s not with Love then it is of no profit or benefit. God would be just as pleased if you hadn’t done it.
At first read, this can be pretty confusing. Because I would think that if you were such a “good person” that you took your $350,000 net worth of possessions/money (random example) and gave them to needy people, that would be a great act of Love. Isn’t that love? How can that be of no value if all those poor people got some money, food or whatever? So, to help us understand what is being said here, we should first make sure we understand what Love is. On the next post, we can discuss what Love IS. But first we must discuss what love is NOT.
I bet being on good terms with God, believing that He’s pretty pleased with you, is a main focus of your life (and likely it is since you are reading a blog like this one). Right? It is a main focus for almost all “religious” people. And if such an act of giving all your possessions to the poor were to be done believing that you will in any way be on better terms with God, then this is SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS, not Love. Actions/works done out of this self-righteousness are of no value to God.
You know why? Because He never wants you to live under such a heavy, painful burden as this. He knows that living/believing this way will bring about a life of emotional pain. He knows this is a losing cause. He knows this path leads to a bad life. And He wants you to live with wonderful thoughts/beliefs/emotions of peace, joy and contentment. Not burdensome thoughts/beliefs/emotions of obligation, fear (of God’s expectations) and fatigue.
I had a Pastor friend who had a Pure Grace awakening before I did – while I was still largely pursuing self righteousness. I didn’t understand his viewpoint very well but we discussed them at length many times. One day he said something that shocked me big time. He said, “You should never do anything you don’t want to do.” Well, all I did all day long every single day!!! was to do things I really didn’t want to do. But I believed they were right to do! So I did them consistently. This was self righteousness, to a large degree.
This was his way of trying to help me see I was missing the blessing of God’s Pure Grace. He was trying to help me see this by showing me my self righteousness. If I had believed at the time what my Pastor friend told me, my whole life would have fallen apart (and ultimately it did but I was raised to new Life – talk about that later). He was tugging at the true foundation of my whole life. And to a great extent I had it wrong. He was right. But I couldn’t see it. I didn’t believe it. It was threatening. I was sure he couldn’t be right on this. It made me angry. But eventually I started understanding this Truth about 2 years ago.
CONCLUSION: Self righteousness usually masquerades well as Love. Self righteousness, looking like Love, will certainly get you TONS of kudos from your “Christian” friends who watch all of your great accomplishments. It might also give you temporary peace of mind because you think you’re doing what you’re supposed to do. But it is a counterfeit of the Love as referenced in 1 Cor. 13: 3. And it will NOT effortlessly bring about the Fruit of the Spirit. Or a joyful life (joy, of course, is a Fruit of the Spirit).
So, let’s move onto the next topic as we’ve planned. WHAT IS LOVE? NEXT POST COMING SOON.