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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Anne Robertson

Friday, February 4

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
—1 Corinthians 13:1

I keep striving for spiritual improvement. I want to receive all the gifts of the Spirit, to grow in my ability to interpret scripture, and to hone my talents for communicating the things of God to others. I want my faith to grow to a point where I could do the miracles done by Jesus and the disciples…to heal the sick, to cast out demons, to make life better for those I meet.

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians catches me up short. In the first three verses of chapter 13, Paul reminds me that even if all those desires were granted—even if I had the kind of faith to command a whole mountain to be uprooted and thrown into the sea, it wouldn’t count for a single thing if there wasn’t any love in my heart. 

No matter how rhetorically amazing my sermons are, no matter how vast my knowledge and understanding, no matter what miracles I might perform—even if I were to go so far as martyrdom, I get not a single divine brownie point unless there is love in it.

All through Scripture this point keeps coming back up. The attitude of the heart is what truly matters, the actions are secondary. It’s not about talent or intellect, miracles or faith. It’s about love. Without the love ingredient, the bread won’t rise. With love you have music; without love you have a noisy gong, even if you’re Horowitz on a Steinway.

None of us loves perfectly. We all have our moments…both good ones and ones we regret. The good news is that since God is love, we are not condemned when we fall short. Our loving God simply picks us up, dusts us off, and encourages us to love a bit more the next time. It’s all grace. It’s all God. It’s all love.

God of the heart, give us the grace to love. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.