A question that often arises from 1 Corinthians 13:3: How is it possible that this kind of giving does not demonstrate love? Especially, in light of the undeniable fact that so many needs are being met and so many people are being helped. Well there is certainly some tangible benefit to the receiver of the goods in this example, but the giver receives no credit at all. It makes more sense when we remember that this scenario the Apostle Paul is speaking of is specifically stated to be lacking love.
What does this indicate? It indicates that the giver doesn’t really have the receiver’s best interests in mind. The giver is using his or her giving to draw attention to themselves. Or perhaps the giver is trying to make up for wrongs done by purchasing their forgiveness through good deeds. Or maybe even the giver is sick and tired of the state of things in the world and just wants to check out of being in the oppressive system in order to avoid further frustration. You can see how core components of love are absent from those motives.
So a helpful question for us to consider is: Do you serve others in such a way that you try to set yourself up for the pat on the back, while disregarding Jesus’ teaching that even your left hand should be ignorant of how your right hand is serving others?
Or to think about it another way: There are also times when we may not set out to be a loveless giver, but what happens in your heart when you aren’t recognized or thanked for an act of kindness?
The bottom line is this: Is it good enough just to know that the receiver was benefited and God was glorified? If not, we can go so far as to give away everything we have and still be lacking love and thus we have gained absolutely nothing.