The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
"The Motive That Matters"
"Some of the most self-centered people on the planet read the Bible, pray, attend church, witness to others, and appear to bear many of the trappings of Christian virtue. At the heart of all, however, something is missing. The main thing is missing, actually."
To give one's body to be burned for God's glory would seem to be the very summit of godliness and spiritual reality. However, if the sacrifice does not proceed from unselfish devotion to others, God accounts it as worthless.
"Though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity (love), it profiteth me nothing" (I Corinthians 13:3).
The Apostle Paul raises the most extreme and seemingly unlikely example of false virtue to illustrate the truth that God's primary work involves forming within us His character of love, that "seeketh not her own" (I Corinthians 13:5). This raises the possibility that we can pray, read our Bibles, seemingly obey many of its commands, exercise faith, witness to others, fellowship regularly with Christians, make self sacrifices, and for all the world appear to be the genuine article of true godliness. However, if we fail to realize that the motive that matters - unselfishness - involves God's primary purpose and working, we miss the heart of the matter, and the matter of the heart.
"Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and given Himself an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor" (Ephesians 5:2).
Unselfishness of motive alone pleases God. It may and will be manifested through the aforementioned expressions that, if genuinely proceeding from love, comprise "the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:11). However, our flesh can on the surface duplicate any spiritual reality, including that which appears to be the ultimate sacrifice, resulting in an artificial and "vain show" that deceives and detours rather than leading to the glory of the Lord Jesus, the blessing of others, and the presence of God's peace in our hearts (Psalm 39:6).
The extremity of Paul's illustration in I Corinthians 13 is meant to focus our gaze on God's primary purpose in Christ, and to warn us that we can easily mistake "fool's gold" for the real, the true, and the authentic. Indeed, some of the most self-centered people on the planet read the Bible, pray, attend church, witness to others, and appear to bear many of the trappings of Christian virtue. At the heart of all, however, something is missing. The main thing is missing, actually. In the light of this solemn reality, we all do well to maintain a running discourse with our Heavenly Father, seeking His confirmation, correction, and ongoing reminder that He ever works to reveal in us His unselfish devotion to others. Nothing else suffices for a life that genuinely reflects the presence of Christ in us, and the purpose of God fulfilled through us.
"By love, serve one another."
"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves."
Weekly Memory Verse
With all thy getting, get understanding.