How do you rate churches or ministries? What criteria do you use in determining their impact or effectiveness? Let’s see what the Scripture uses as a standard.
In my last post, the Apostle Paul introduced what he called a more excellent way of ministry. That brings us to First Corinthians, chapter 13 – the Love Chapter.
The word used for love, is the Greek word, agape. This word is very significant.
Agape-love has no emotion attached to its definition. It’s purely an act of your will. It’s a choice that you make in how you treat others.
We know that Jesus Christ, Himself, commanded us to love each other. If it were based upon feelings, then He could never make such a request.
Keep this in mind as we go through this chapter over the next few posts. It’s up to you how you choose to treat people. You’ll either walk in love or choose to follow the leading of your flesh.
The first thing we see in this chapter, are three things that human religion would point to as excellence in ministry. Unfortunately, they’re not what God’s rating system includes.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
1 Corinthians 13:1
The first area is that of your preaching and teaching ministry. What if I had the command of every language on earth? I could preach the Gospel anywhere I wanted to.
I could stand before thousands and proclaim Christ. I could be God’s messenger to the world. After all, that’s what the word, angel, means (messenger).
According to this verse, without love, I’m not ministering. I’m simply making a noise that gets people’s attention.
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.
1 Corinthians 13:2
What about the flow of supernatural power. Certainly, that would mean my ministry is on track with God’s plan. Not necessarily.
Signs, wonders, and miracles are things that we point to as indicators of success.
“Look at my ministry. The miracles are proof that I’m in the center of God’s will. Send me your offering.”
We think the supernatural move of God is an indication that we’re someone special. On the contrary, it only proves that we serve a great God. Paul makes it clear that no matter how many miracles in my ministry, without love I’m a nobody in God’s kingdom.
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:3
The third area is one we’d probably never think of. Self-sacrifice for others.
The word for flames is actually the Greek word, glory. In other words, I use up every ounce of my physical strength for the benefit of others.
We sometimes think that we’ll give to the poor because God wants us to. Or maybe because we see it as sowing seeds for God’s blessing.
The problem is that if I don’t give out of love…a desire to see the recipient blessed by my giving, then I’ve gained nothing. There’s no profit, physically or spiritually.
Love is the determining factor in how God rates a ministry. Keep that in mind as you work for the Lord.
Question: How can you tell if love plays a role in what you do for Christ?
© 2019 Nick Zaccardi