If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
I love being a part of what God is doing through Alliance churches in Canada. Gathering stories of Justice and Compassion excites my spirit. I am encouraged by the many opportunities available to put faith and hope into action—plus, Jesus himself tells us that he will be there to receive it (Matthew 25:35–36).
A few years ago, I was passionately advocating for the marginalized, and I invited others to join me in demonstrating God’s love by serving the disadvantaged. My advocacy message and service centred on being motivated by compassion, yet I soon learned that compassion was not enough.
Sadly, after our first group volunteering experience at a soup kitchen, I became disheartened and confused by patrons who complained about the food that we had prepared. Even worse, I was dumbfounded by the indignation of volunteers who were
expecting gratitude from these lost souls.
I began to wonder whether Christ was really among us that day.
Unfortunately, when we only know in part the extent of God’s love, our good works will be ineffectual and meaningless. God helped transform my motivation for serving the disadvantaged. As I reflected on 1 Corinthians 13, I began to see that without a motivation of love, nothing is gained for Christ.
My prayer is to always ask the Counsellor for guidance to understand what justice and compassion looks like when it is motivated by unconditional love. Holy Spirit, help me to understand the fullness of God’s love. I pray that you will bring to mind my own brokenness as I commit to move out of my comfort zone and love those whom I perceive as undeserving or unlovable.
SCRIPTURE TO REFLECT ON: 1 CORINTHIANS 13; MATTHEW 5:43–48
1. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you about faith and hope in action? Is there a difference between being motivated by compassion and being motivated by perfect love?
2. Have you ever volunteered and felt completely unappreciated or concerned that your efforts were not accomplishing anything for Christ? Reflect on 1 Corinthians 13 and then read Matthew 5:43–48.
Serena Richardson works at the National Ministry Centre as the Alliance Justice and Compassion Administrator. She is also an undergrad student at Emmanuel Bible College, working toward her Bachelor of Religious Education (BRE) in Christian Education and Intercultural Studies.