Daily posts to help you connect with God
and keep yourself travelling in the right orbit
ORBIT | WEEK TWELVE
ORBIT – DAY FIFTY-EIGHT
Hello and welcome to another Orbit – the daily devotional from the youth team at St Mary’s Reigate. Each day we bring you a small section of the Bible to think about, plus a bit of time to pray and reflect, and a practical way to respond today. If you’re just joining us for the first time – welcome! We hope that this is or will become a helpful addition to your daily journey in the Christian faith.
BIBLE READING – 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.
Hands down, this passage is the most popular reading in the history of weddings around the world. Even if you don’t know much of the Bible, you probably know this chapter, which goes on famously to talk about the nature of love. Usually though, we read this passage out of context, divorced from what Paul has been saying in the rest of his letter to the Corinthians. In truth, non-Christian audiences must find certain aspects of the start of the passage quite weird when the reader talks about speaking in tongues, or having the gift of prophecy. These bits are not particularly useful when you’re trying to make the passage sound romantic, but they’re really important if we want to understand what Paul is really getting at.
As we have seen over the last couple of days on Orbit, this section of 1 Corinthians is Paul helping the church in Corinth to understand what it means to function well together. More specifically, he has been talking about spiritual gifts, and the way that these are given by the Holy Spirit – different gifts to different people – to help build up the whole church. In fact, just before this very famous series of verses, Paul has been challenging preconceptions about which of the spiritual gifts are more important (including suggesting that the gift of tongues is perfectly fine, but not all that vital, even though it’s one of the most apparently supernatural of gifts).
Which brings us on to Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 13. This isn’t a chapter about romantic love, or about how to have a happy marriage (although plenty can be learned from it and applied to those things). No, this is a chapter about how one spiritually-charged gift sits above all the others, and, without wanting to sound like a cartoon character: the gift is love.
It’s not just that love is the most important element of being a Christian, it’s that without love, all the other aspects are basically useless. The amazing spiritual gifts that we are told to desire eagerly, are worthless if we don’t have love. Being incredible at charitable giving and self-discipline are pointless if they are not done out of love. If we are super smart, and have great faith, these things are worthless if we’re not first motivated by love.
Love is the engine of the Christian life. It is what the Holy Spirit produces in us, it is what Jesus models to us, and it is what we ultimately receive from the Father. If we are not operating in love, then we are missing the whole point of our faith.
This can however be flipped and seen much more positively. If we don’t have the gift of tongues, or prophecy; if we don’t have particularly strong faith, or a huge amount of generosity or wisdom or self-discipline… if we don’t have any of those things but we DO have love, then we’ve still grasped the most important thing. So if we seek to grow in anything as Christians, let us seek to grow in love. It is the centre of God’s heart, and the force that transforms the world – because it’s the most important thing in the world.
You might want to join me in praying this prayer.
Lord God, I pray that I would grow in love. I ask that you would help me to love others, to love myself, and to love you. I also pray that you would help me to know and receive the great love that you have for me. Amen
There’s now a chance for you to pray, or listen to God, or simply be still for a few moments.
Each day we will provide you with a simple challenge; something to do which helps you put this little thought into action. Here’s today’s challenge:
Today, think about the people that you love, and think also about what brings them joy. What could you do for someone that you care about today, to demonstrate the love that you have for them? This doesn’t need to be a romantic partner – it could be a friend (and lads, I’m looking at you too – it’s ok to love your friends). Perform a small act of love for someone else today, and notice what this practice does for your own sense of wellbeing too.
If you want to get in touch, you can always email firstname.lastname@example.org, or message us on Instagram – we’re @stmarys_satellites. Let us know what you think of this daily reflection – please – we’d love your feedback.
We’ll be back with another edition of Orbit on Monday. Thanks for taking part today!