Its that time of year again when school begins! I haven’t yet experienced a year when I didn’t have a child returning to school in September. But along with school, many other activities that ended several months ago begin again. We like new beginnings. Whether today is your first day back to school, or you haven’t walked into a school for over thirty years, the hopes and expectations of something new is real for each one of us. Whether its new school clothes, new notebooks, new back packs, new activities, a new job, a new Bible study; they all hold within them the hopes of new experiences we will enjoy. New can be very rewarding and be very beneficial. However, sometimes new brings disappointment. The hopes we had, the things we thought we would enjoy don’t meet our expectations.
What are we hoping for?
What are we expecting?
This time of year Mark and I are planning our training meeting for the leaders of Teen Community Bible Study. Mark and I have been involved with this ministry for many years and it has been a blessing to work alongside many other leaders as we study God’s word together and share the truth of God’s word with teens and young adults.
Each year we study a different book of the Bible. This year we will go through 1st and 2nd Corinthians.
While preparing for this new year of TCBS training I was reminded of the verses in 1 Corinthians 12 that tell about the body of Christ working together using the different gifts given to us by God. God encourages us to value the gifts He has given to us and to others. They are given by God; His Spirit is their source, and we are to rely on His power to minister our gifts towards others so that God is glorified.
I am thankful for the leaders we have and for the gifts God has given each one so that the ministry of TCBS works well.
But then at the end of chapter 12, I found this verse…
“But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all.”
As important as working together as a body is; each one embracing their gifts from God and appreciating the gifts given to others, God says there is more…
something even better, something that is best!!
However, this “best” begins with some challenging verses…
“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”
So, all those good gifts that God has given to us, those abilities that we are to receive, appreciate, and put into practice… is God saying they hold no value if they aren’t motivated by love?
Perhaps we have put our hope in the wrong things.
Perhaps we have had wrong expectations.
All because our motivation was wrong.
All because we don’t understand what is “best!”
These verses are humbling, to really consider what they say and to honestly evaluate my life, I have to admit I have done many things with the love of self as my motive instead of the love for others.
Then God continues to explain what this “best” looks like…
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
Tonight is our training for a new year of TCBS and as every other year I have hopes and expectations for our new season.
But, tonight as I share these verses with the leaders I will put aside the hopes and expectations that are motivated purely for the satisfaction of having a well run program, and choose instead to pray for our hearts to truly love God, and to be fully loved by God, so that we are motivated and empowered by His spirit to love, truly love our teens and young adults.
Because rather than a clanging cymbal, great knowledge and faith, or even self-sacrifice, our teens at TCBS need to be loved!
For that way of life is the best of all!
“So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” MSG