Wednesday, June 2, 2010

If I have not love, I am nothing

Article verse: 1 Corinthians 13:2 (NIV):

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 have not love, I am nothing.

Apostle Paul’s motivation for ministry
If I have not love (have no love), I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:2 put it very clearly this truth, understood by the Apostle Paul. The latter said that if he had the gift of prophecy and could fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if he had a faith that could move mountains, but had not love, he was nothing. This tells us the kind of motivation that we must have behind our ministry or our serving. It looked to me that Paul was saying that our ministry or our service would not count much or even count nothing before God if our motivation was not love.

Our heart-condition, God knows
If what we do is motivated by a desire to gain something for ourselves or to gratify our flesh, such ministry or serving really does not count. If we serve or minister to get appreciation and applause of others or for self-glorification our motivation will not be pleasing to God. When God is not pleased, He may not bless our efforts and without His blessing, our effectiveness may suffer. This is particularly so, if what we do requires God’s supernatural action. In faith healing for example, it is God who heals, we have no power to heal; when our motivation is wrong, God may or may not extend His hand of healing. In many natural things, sure, because of natural endowments, we are capable of achieving much, without God’s intervention, but even so, God knows our motivation, and when the heart-condition is not right, despite that we have success, and praises of men, God may not be pleased.

Ascribe all glory to God
One motivation which is clearly not acceptable to God is to glorify oneself. All glory must be ascribed back to God. God does not allow His glory to be shared with another (Isaiah 42:8, 48:11, Mal 2:2 {KJV}). Do not listen to preachers who tell us to lap up the glory on ground of our royal identity in the Kingdom. The Apostle Paul only talked about our sharing of the Lord’s glory in the future (not in this life), and even for that we must presently share in His suffering.

A success does not necessarily mean God is pleased with you
Actually, there are many things we can do that seem right, and good and honorable, and these may include preaching, teaching and praying for others, but if our motivation is not right, they will not be credited to us, despite success of our endeavors. The success of our endeavors does not necessarily mean that God is pleased; for one thing there is always Romans 8:28 - in all things, God (still) works them for the good of those (may not be us) who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.

The right motivation
Our right motivation should be God’s compassionate love for people. Our ministry and service must be motivated by selfless compassionate love for others. By this, we are not to expect reward for what we have done. Of course, in many scenarios, the blessed person may thank us, and even show us honor, but we are not to be motivated by such. It is right, though, for the one who have received ministry to show appreciation and honor those who serve, if possible; this is part of practising honor.

What if I have not the compassion?
Should one still minister or serve if one has no compassion? Should one wait until one has compassion before one serve? I was once embroiled with nagging personal problems (in fact, I am still in them), and had lost compassion for others, preferring to adopt the attitude that I should let some others (presuming they have no or less problems than me) to help those in need. Such attitude is in fact very real for many of us, and I believe it is the devil’s tactic to cause us to be inward-looking. I say one should still serve even if one lacks compassion. This is not the same as saying that you can go serve with wrong motivation. I am saying if you have no bad motive, and it is just that you are not feeling compassionate enough to serve or minister, you should still do it.

In His time, He will make all things beautiful
I like to borrow Jesus’ saying in the story of The Rich Young Man (Matt 19), “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” What I am saying is that when we are having problems of our own, we often find it difficult to have the compassion to serve or minister to others (because our mind is always on our own problems, not solved, not helped by others), but it is possible for God to infuse His compassion into us over time if our heart-condition is right. For one thing, from my own experience, God will grant you the grace and strength to persevere in your problems, and when you have that, you will begin to find it easier to give selfless compassionate love to others. Maybe after sometime, you may even find it very meaningful to serve God and to be His minister, to be His physical presence for those in need of God. Of course, depending on the nature of your own struggles, and the ministry you want to get involved in, you may want to talk to your mentor, overseer or church pastor who will be able to monitor you in your ministry or service.

I am believing that as I minister more and more with the love of God, He will increase the effectiveness of my ministry or service.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions – Yet, still I know my life has not been all that pleasing to you. Lord, help me not to ignore your holiness, for you are first of all, Holiness.

PS: For the record (journaling), I ministered singing prayers (my first) to a brother in church altar ministry on 30th May 2010, 10:30am service. This brother was moved to tears. Just for the record, I had also prayed for his 4-years old son, John, for brain damage affecting one side of the boy’s body.

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