1 Corinthians 13:3 (NASB)

And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor,
and if I surrender my body to be burned,
but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Bible Commentary

1 Corinthians 13:3 is a Bible verse in the New Testament where Paul is teaching us the value of love.

The entire chapter of 1 Corinthians is devoted to a full and complete definition of “love.” The Apostle Paul teaches us what it is and what it is not.

To establish the foundation of 1 Corinthians 13:3, let’s first look at 1 John 4:8, which tells us something critically important, “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”


When Paul describes in detail what love is, He is actually describing God Himself. We can get an accurate picture of Who God is by studying 1 Corinthians 13:3 and the entire chapter.

There are many individuals, charities, foundations and organizations who do some great work for the less fortunate, and even some who make great sacrifices in the process. Paul alludes to that very thing in this verse when he says, “if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned…”


It is the next phrase that gets our attention, “but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” First of all, what does he mean by “do not have love”? If we do good deeds for someone else, isn’t that the epitome of love?

Maybe you work in a serving capacity regularly and wonder why you feel empty, or numb on the inside, when you expected to feel good and be fulfilled. 

Unlocking the Truth - The Heart of the Matter

You would think that doing kind deeds would always be rewarding and make us feel great, but the Apostle Paul says differently. We can do kind deeds all day long every day, but if it doesn’t come from love, which is God, then it is actually dry and empty.

The act itself is well and good, but the intention of the heart is the root of the matter. In 1 Samuel 16:7, God says to Samuel, “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” The outward appearance of the good deed looks like charity to others, but God sees the depth of our heart. He sees exactly what motivates us to action.


Not to say He doesn’t approve of us doing good deeds from a reason other than love, but He wants something so much better for us that is richly satisfying and rewarding, which is a reflection of Who He is. When we do things out of love, from the very place of Who God is, then we reap the very essence of love, and that is a prize so valuable we couldn’t possibly put a price on it.

The Greek meaning of “love” in 1 Corinthians 13:3 is: love, affection or benevolence, a love feast, charity. Just by reading these definitions, you can see that God has abundance in mind, not emptiness, dullness and dryness.

So how do we get this love?

With God’s help, we must look into the depth of our hearts, to see if there is something standing in the way of love. God is a Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6), and He will show us what needs to be addressed, so that love can move in and heal our heart.

Our own heart must be healthy in order to give love out to others. We must pray and ask God to lead us by His Word, the Bible. If we seek the truth, we will surely find it (Matthew 7:7).


We must look to the One Who is love—God. He is our Heavenly Father, and He desires to give us the best gifts. Luke 12:32 says, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”

Luke 11:13 says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

Let's Pray for more love. When we pray for love, we’re praying for more of Him. What an excellent prayer!

Study 1 Corinthians 13:3, and be healed from the emptiness in your heart by praying for more of the Holy Spirit—God—Who is Love.



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