February 13 I Sunday
“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” —1 Corinthians 13:3, NKJV
From the opening verse of this devotion, who would argue with this type of believer? Someone who has given everything, even to the point of their own life! What an amazing sacrifice! But how is it that someone can do all that and not be attached to the heart of God?
After my time in Philadelphia, I moved back to Toronto and continued my work with Urban Promise. I was serving in a low-income housing community known as Alexandra Park, located in downtown Toronto. I would go there about five to six days a week, serving kids after school and getting to know the youths in the neighbourhood who were struggling with gang activity and on the fringe of going deep into that lifestyle. I would spend days building relationships with them. I loved those kids. I would do all kinds of things for them. I had to raise support for this work; even though I did not have a lot of money, I felt like I was sacrificing some things for the cause.
Then one morning, I remember in my quiet time I was reading through the Word of God and it was as though the Holy Spirit put His finger on a place in my life and God said to me, “You don’t love these children that you are serving.” I responded, “What do You mean ‘You don’t love these children?’ I have given up other careers that I could have entered. I am raising my own support, so that I could do this work. I gave up time with my friends and family for these kids. I love these kids!”
Then, God brought to mind all the youths that were giving me a hard time: those who would challenge me, say rude words to me, were evil to me and were unkind to me. It started to dawn on me that God was right. I loved the kids who responded to the message and reciprocated the love I showed them. But the ones who were giving me a hard time? Deep down inside, I did not love them. I thought I was sacrificing all kinds of things, but I realized I had so much to learn about God’s love—a love that is unconditional and not dependent on the other person responding.
The beginning of 1 Corinthians 13 outlined three types of believers with a common problem. As previously discussed, the first is the spiritually gifted and the second is the genius. The third type is the generous. In all three types, it is not the gift that’s the problem, but the person. When the gift is detached from God’s love, it ultimately comes from a cold, dead heart.
Prayer: Dear God, teach me to serve others with Your heart. May I exercise the gifts You give me to connect myself and others to Your love. Thank You, Lord.