READ: 1 Corinthians 13:1:-3
“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.”
Corinth was one of the most important cities in the ancient Greco-Roman empire. Like modern New York or Singapore, this metropolis was a commercial hub in an ever-growing culture. The city streets thrived with trade, smelled of exotic spices, and featured the best nightlife in the world. Corinth was a culture of success and excess.
Just like some people in modern metro areas, the Corinthians had money and loved to show it off. They took any opportunity to flex their wealth and boost their egos. I imagine if they had Instagram, they would post a lot of those awkward pictures that show off their watch and their steering wheel logo. Consumerism and comparison crept into the church and it was starting to cause big problems. This is why Paul felt the need to write them the Corinthian Correction.
1 Corinthians 13:3 explains, “If I give all I possess to the poor, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” Paul parallels the spiritual gifts described in chapter twelve to the importance of love in chapter thirteen. He essentially says, “it doesn’t matter if you give to the poor, have massive faith, or even do miracles. If you’re not doing it with love, then you’re doing it wrong.”
We can infer that grand gestures of generosity were common for the Corinthians. Someone would feed the poor just to tell everyone about their sacrifice. Someone would make a large donation and expect a public celebration. Someone would go on a short-term mission trip just to post a few dozen photos about it. Paul demands they cut it out. If it’s not from a place of love, then your kindness is selfish. Paul explains that all good deeds should come from a place of selfless affection and not intended for selfish attention.
You should not do good to look good. You should do good because you love God. Take an honest inventory of your intentions. Don’t serve to be seen. Don’t give up on showing off. Don’t make grand gestures designed for your news feed. You shouldn’t do good things hoping that good comes your way in return. That’s the opposite of God’s goal for us. Kindness is not currency. Kindness is the overflow of the love that comes from God.