What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “devotion”? For me, it’s dedicating a significant or at least consistent amount of my time to something. You might think of devotionals, journaling, or Bible times at breakfast with the family. Whatever it is, something comes to mind.
This is the last of our virtue posts for March, and I hope you all have enjoyed them. For this last one, we’re going to head back to where we began, in 1 Corinthians 13.
“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
1 Corinthians 13:8 NIV
That entire verse is meaningful, but I want to take those simple first three words, “Love never fails,” and highlight them. That sums devotion up fairly well. Does our love for those around us, romantic and non-romantic, stay consistent all the time? What about when ourselves or others mess up? Do we stop loving them because they’ve done something wrong?
In a line from the movie Woodlawn, a pastor asks his congregation, “If we only love those who love us back, what kind of love is that?” It’s an incredible quote, and I want to extend it to say, if we only love people part of the time, whenever we feel like it, what kind of love do we show them? Can you imagine if Jesus showed us that kind of love? What if, every time we messed up, He stopped loving us? Give that some thought for a moment.
Here’s the amazing news: He doesn’t love us like that. He loves us more than is even comprehendable, and we should make an effort to extend that sort of love to others.
Sometimes, our priorities can get mixed up in our busy, everyday lives. However, if we get too wrapped up in our routines and calendars to love those around us with devotion, we can miss out on so many blessings. Personally, I’m just going to admit that sometimes I have problems with time management, and sometimes my priorities get mixed up. School, projects, and demands that the world makes tend to weigh me down. I can forget what is truly important, and maybe you can too.
However, our relationship with God and our relationships with others are the most important things in this world, and sometimes we need to take a step back from everything to get a clearer picture. Things can finally come into perspective this way, and give us a deeper appreciation for the things that should hold our highest priority. It can be challenging, but it’s always rewarding in the long run. This doesn’t mean that we neglect our studies, but that when we combine time management with aligned priorities, everything falls into place for our good and God’s glory.
I’ve recently been learning almost everywhere I turn that time is one of the most precious gifts we’ve been given by God. Likewise, one of the most valuable gifts we can give to others is the gift of our time. It might mean helping the elderly lady down the street by mowing her lawn in the summer or lending a listening ear to some stories of hers over cookies and lemonade. Whatever it is, it takes time and dedication to show true devotion to someone or something.
Let’s reassess where our priorities lie. As you go about your day, take a little extra notice about what you spend your time on outside of school and other necessary things. Do you invest in the people around you? True friendships and relationships take time to strengthen and grow.
This Tuesday there was a snapshot of one of my favorite devotionals, Everything Counts, and that might be a great place to start! Spending time in God’s word and learning more about Him every day is a major first step towards correctly aligned priorities. Next are your family, your friends, and that one person next door that always looks a little lonely around a specific time of year. Maybe it’s time to shift your focus and move beyond the superficial that’s so commonly found in many friendships and relationships. Maybe it’s time to go deeper; to give our time to those around us in meaningful ways; and to align our priorities with God’s priorities, learning true devotion to God and others around us.
It felt so suitable to end with this verse, but I want to leave you all with a challenge: don’t ignore everything we’ve talked about. We’re meant for more than the world’s definition of love, respect, tolerance, and devotion. Let’s be the spark that sets the world alight, showing unconditional love like a light in the darkness.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV