LOVE IN ACTION
God, give me the courage to stand firm in the faith and grant me your grace when I doubt. Thank you for loving me always.
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 16:1-12
The Collection for the Lord’s People
16 Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. 3 Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.
5 After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you—for I will be going through Macedonia. 6 Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.
10 When Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. 11 No one, then, should treat him with contempt. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers.
12 Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Here is love, vast as the ocean, / loving kindness as the flood.’1
When we think about 1 Corinthians and the theme of love our minds naturally turn to chapter 13. Yet chapter 16 also contains much material that helps us to love well. True, the soaring language of 1 Corinthians 13 gives way to something which on the surface seems much more mundane. Paul sets out a framework for giving (vs 1–4), shares his tentative travel plans (vs 5–8) and gives instructions about receiving Timothy (vs 10,11). A superficial reading of the text might suggest that there’s not much to excite us or instruct us here.
Yet in these seemingly humdrum, everyday details we learn much about love. Offering hospitality to a rather fearful traveling preacher shows love, as does planned, regular sacrificial giving. Both are much needed today, especially in the West. We are poor at opening our homes to all but close family and friends, especially if the visitor might stay for a while. Most of us have far more capacity to give to God’s work than we admit. Paul would want to challenge us by saying, ‘Where is your love?’ Reflecting on the self-giving love of Christ leads us to change our priorities and with it our way of life. Love is nothing if it does not transform our actions.
Showing real love will not be easy. Did you notice the dynamic of verses 8 and 9? Paul is opposed by many in Ephesus. What is his response? Will he leave and go somewhere easier? That might be our answer, but not Paul’s. No, because a great door for gospel work has swung wide open, he is committed to stay. Real love is deeply practical. It takes character and involves hard choices. We need 1 Corinthians 13 to help us to love as Christ loved us. But we need 1 Corinthians 16 as well.
How can you respond to the challenges set out in this passage: hospitality, financial giving and loving when it is difficult?
Lord Jesus, you brought warmth and love to those who needed it. Help me to be intentional in this regard, showing kindness and love to those around me.
1 William Rees, 1802–83; tr William Edwards, 1845–1929
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