What does God want for your life? What’s really important to Him?
A great place to find some answers to these questions is in one of the most familiar chapters in the Bible. Take a look:
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT) If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
Note all the “if’s” in these verses. If I could speak. If I could prophesy. If I understood God’s mysteries and possessed unrivaled knowledge. If I had mountain-moving faith. If I gave everything away. If I sacrificed my body.
Many of these “if’s” listed here are considered to be pinnacles of human desire and achievement. In some cases, they are what people want to be known for––great speaking talents, an impressive perspective and presence, incredible expertise, visionary, “make things happen” drive and faith, attention-getting, enviable philanthropic acts! All these things are recognizable, desirable, admirable, respectable, affirmable, applaudable and celebrated abilities, activities and giftings.
Yet Paul cuts through the glamor of these sought-after “successes” to the heart. He reminds us that, even if these gifts are developed and expressed in and through us, although they may attract the recognition and applause of people, they don’t automatically attract the applause and approval of God.
What makes someone a truly fruitful and effective person is deeper, much more challenging to develop and demonstrate, much less glamorous, much more nitty gritty, and unquestionably more important. What God looks for and measures in people is the depth, degree and demonstration of love. The showcasing of our giftings doesn’t make us great, the sincere and consistent expression of love does. Giftings, abilities and achievements never impress God, the quality of our character and the level of our love does. Gifted people are “a dime a dozen.” People of true character, filled with the God-kind of love are really rare!
What does God want for you? What’s important to Him? The Old Testament prophet Micah said it well:
Micah 6:8 (MSG) But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.
Giftings, abilities and achievements are great, but developing and demonstrating love-filled character is infinitely greater!