“Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12:31

Further reading: How to serve others and change lives.

The Apostle Paul has just finished teaching about how indispensable every member of the body (the Church) is. Not even the lowliest gift should be despised, but all should be valued and used to serve one another.

Now he takes us around an astonishing turn. Desire these good gifts, he tells them, but if one vital thing is absent, none of them will be worth anything. What is that one missing ingredient? 


“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  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.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Have you ever been guilty of valuing some of God’s gifts more highly than others? I have always been drawn to the more “showy” ways of serving the Church (preaching, teaching, and leading). My dear wife, on the other hand, has a deep motivation to serve others in ways that are more behind the scenes.

According to Paul, I need to learn from her! Yes, I am to use my gifts to further God’s Kingdom, but the gifts of those who lovingly serve the lost as Jesus’ hands and feet--those gifts can be the most potent of all. Without love, our acts of service taste bitter to God, but He absolutely savors it when we serve with love and humility.

Lord Jesus, teach me always to wed my motivations and actions with Your love. I want to use my gifts in such a way that others are drawn to Your great heart. Amen.

Take Action

Are you a gifted teacher or leader? Do you have a servant’s heart? How does love motivate you? Submit all of your motivations to God in prayer—the good and the bad—ask the Spirit to form greater love in you.

What kind of service brings you joy? Share a comment.

Tags: Love 1 Corinthians 10 serve