Wednesday after the Eighth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:58—16:24 (NKJV)
15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. 3 And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. 4 But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me. 5 Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia (for I am passing through Macedonia). 6 And it may be that I will remain, or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. 9 For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. 10 Now if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do. 11 Therefore let no one despise him. But send him on his journey in peace, that he may come to me; for I am waiting for him with the brethren.
12 Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time; however, he will come when he has a convenient time. 13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done with love. 15 I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints—16 that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us. 17 I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied. 18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men.
19 The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. 20 All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. 21 The salutation with my own hand—Paul’s. 22 If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come! 23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.
“Let all that you do be done with love.” These words could be the key phrase in a romantic comedy. They could be etched on home décor to give the place a more comfortable feeling. And if taken apart from their context of the Christian faith, they would be just another kitschy catchphrase. When St. Paul says, “Let all that you do be done with love,” he is not exhorting us to do “random acts of kindness” for people; neither is he teaching us to give out “thinking of you” cards. He is calling us to mortify our sinful flesh and serve our neighbor according to the Commandments.
By nature we do not want to serve our neighbor (service to neighbor is how we love them). By nature we want to serve ourselves. We want to be the one being served. Our flesh even feels entitled to it. The Christian is called to daily repent of this selfish and self-seeking attitude, and then mortify those desires. We are to kill our selfishness so that we can truly love our neighbor as we love ourselves. That love then seeks to do good works for our neighbors, and good works come only from the Commandments. We do not get to choose our own good works, rather God etches them in stone so that we know what is pleasing to Him and beneficial to our neighbor. We help them to improve and protect their possessions and income. We defend their reputations. We protect their marriages. We do all within our power to help them in every bodily need. This is how we let all that we do be done in love.
Lord God, grant us Thy grace so that we may put to death our self-serving desires and by Thy grace love our neighbor according to Thy Commandments. Amen.