“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
This passage comes right after the chapter where Paul is speaking of spiritual gifts to the church at Corinth. He points out “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.” (1 Cor 12:25) He is talking about how important it is that we use our spiritual gifts to edify one another and not to “toot our own horn” so-to-speak.
And then Paul speaks of the “glue” that makes all the gifts work together. He says that no matter how “gifted” one is, unless they use that gift with “charity” … that giving kind of love, it is useless. Brass that has no sound; a cymbal that merely “tinks”; prophecy, faith, “goods”. When we have these gifts and don’t use them in the spirit in which God intends, they are nothing.
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matt 22:37-39)
Our motive is what it is all about. Once we have received salvation by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9), everything we do must be done either out of love for the Lord our God or out of love for our neighbor. As humans we cannot see the intent of the heart, but God can and He expects us to give our best to Him and to our neighbor. When we do something for any other reason it is NOTHING. It is like that brass with no sound or that cymbal that can’t be heard. When we do it for ourselves it is as if we have not done it at all.
Why are you doing what you do? The charity in your heart is the key. Without charity it is nothing.