February 12 I Saturday
“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” —1 Corinthians 13:2
In the famous chapter on love in the Bible, Paul writes about three types of believers with one common problem. As discussed in the previous devotion, the first type is the spiritually gifted. The second type is the genius, who is someone that can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge. People stand in awe of their intellect when they take the platform and articulate wisdom, but it is just a show.
Before working at The Peoples Church (Toronto, Canada), I worked with Urban Promise. Every year, we would take Bible college students down to where Urban Promise started, in the city of Camden, New Jersey. Camden was a very difficult, struggling city right across the bridge from Philadelphia. For years, we would take students who spent a whole year studying theology into the inner city so that they could experience using the gifts that God had deposited in them and the knowledge that they had studied to share with children. Although it was a one-week short-term missions experience, it impacted many of the students’ lives. I have heard incredible stories of how this experience triggered some of them to engage in inner city ministry.
When we went on these trips, it was not about comfort, but a cross-cultural missions experience. We would sleep on the floors of churches, where there are rats the size of cats and cockroaches the size of mice roaming around. There was adversity and long days serving others, but we got to encounter Christ in a different way.
I remember one year, when a group of Bible college students came to serve, within a few days, what started as a mild frustration turned into a growing resentment that resulted in a revolt. The students were not grateful for the accommodations. The students did not appreciate that the children they were serving were sometimes rude to them. The students started to complain all week about the conditions of being a missionary in the inner city. Although they knew the beliefs of the faith and could amaze others with their biblical wisdom, they were far from the heart of God. Instead of being heartbroken for the people living in this circumstance every day, they were focused on their own needs.
One could study theology in preparation for ministry, but without love, it results in a whole lot of nothing. This leads to an important question: What is our motive when we serve? Is it done so that others can be amazed at the intellect that God has given us? May we serve others out of God’s love and not our own pride.
Prayer: Almighty God, break my heart for what breaks Yours. Help me see people through Your eyes, and love them as You love them. Thank You, Lord.