"Let all that you do be done in love." The command to love is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian. Jesus preached that to love God and others are the greatest commands. The call to live a life marked by love is a consistent message found throughout Scriptures. When the apostle Paul wrote to the church of Corinth, he instructed them to do everything in love.
Paul provided these vital instructions to the church of Corinth, but believers today can apply this to our lives. We must do everything in love because it is an act of obedience to God, keeps our motives right, and guides us to be more like Jesus.
What Does 'Let All That You Do Be Done in Love' Mean?
Earlier in 1 Corinthians, Paul goes to great lengths to explain what love means. This earlier passage helps give context and meaning to what it means to do everything in love.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
This description of love helps make sense of Paul’s instruction to, “Do everything in love.” To do everything in love means to be patient, to be kind, to not envy or boast. To do everything in love means that we do not dishonor others, brag, or become easily angered. To do everything in love means to rejoice in the truth of God, reject evil, and to trust and hope in Him.
Believers can make choices each day out of love that result in being patient, kind, and forgiving. Believers can live in ways that reflect obedience and trust in God by doing everything in love.
Paul went on to write that we could even do something as extreme as giving everything we own to the poor, but if we are not doing that in love, then it counts for nothing (see 1 Corinthians 13:3). Truly, doing everything in love holds our motives accountable to righteousness rather than selfish gain. When we do things out of love, that means we are not doing things out of selfish ambition or to make ourselves look good in front of others. Doing things out of love will help followers of Jesus be more Christlike.
What Is the Context of This 'Let All That You Do Be Done in Love'?
The apostle Paul wrote this letter to the church of Corinth. Corinth was a Greek city under Roman power. Paul wrote this letter after he had already established the church in Corinth. He wrote because this church community was struggling, and this letter served as both encouragement to them in their faith and correction of their theological misunderstandings.
1 Corinthians 16 is the final chapter of this letter. In it, Paul provided guidance and wisdom on setting aside money for God’s work and giving according to one’s means. He also shared the travel plans of Timothy and Apollos and urged the Corinthians to welcome both men. He gave his final farewells to the church in this chapter, as well.
It is in this chapter that Paul urged them to do everything in love. Paul was certainly disheartened with the opposition and tensions in Corinth, but he demonstrated hope that they would pursue righteousness and follow God’s truth. Paul did not give up on this church, but rather, he continued to teach them God’s truth and remained hopeful that they would rid themselves of worldly beliefs that were contrary to God’s truth, sinful behavior, and become more spiritually mature.
Paul left them with this final reassurance to be strong in their faith and to do everything in love.
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Why Does the Author Say 'Let All That You Do Be Done in Love'?
The members of the church in Corinth were spiritually immature. They had begun to live in ways that were contrary to righteousness. They were having disagreements about divorce, sexual immorality, and a variety of other issues. These discrepancies resulted in divisions within the church and threatened the unity and longevity of the church.
Paul reminded them to instead do everything in love. That meant accepting one another, correcting their misbeliefs, and fleeing from sinful behavior—and to do all that in love for one another and for God.
Paul wrote this teaching to the church of Corinth to help them grow and deepen in spiritual maturity. And this same message can help believers today deepen faith and grow more spiritually mature, as well. When we do everything in love, we can walk in the ways that God would have us do so.
Doing everything in love results in believers choosing righteousness and leaving behind sinfulness. Doing everything in love is not about being a doormat, rather this means that we will be more like Jesus--patient, kind, and humble.
At times, doing everything in love means we may have to do hard or undesirable things for the good of others or to further the Gospel. When Jesus went to the cross, it was an incredible, unmatched act of love. Jesus did everything in love, even if that meant dying for the sins of all humankind. In our own lives, we may have to deny our sinful desires or bad habits to do things out of love for God and others.
It may not be easy, but obedience to God--to do everything in love--is never a choice we will regret.
How Can We Show More Love in Our Day-to-Day Lives?
Showing more love in our daily lives takes intentionality. God has called us to love, and this may look different each day and season in life. We can love because God first loved us (see 1 John 4:19). The exciting news is that Jesus empowers us to do everything in love. We could never do this with our own strength or intent, but with God’s help, it becomes possible to show more love each day. Scripture gives us plenty of guidance on what it means to do everything in love.
“[Jesus said] You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:43-45
We can show more love in our lives by praying for our enemies, by acting good and kind toward those who we do not think deserve it, and by letting our actions and words be motivated by love. Consider the Good Samaritan and how he went out of his way to take care of the man who had been beaten, robbed, and left for dead. The Good Samaritan showed great love and concern and inspires believers to do the same when we see others in need.
Showing more love may look like praying more regularly for people, by checking in on someone who is lonely, or by helping someone with errands or help around their home. Showing more love can mean getting involved with a church ministry or organization that meets the needs of others and shares the Gospel. Giving of our time and skills is a powerful way to show more love.
Showing more love may look like offering forgiveness, showing mercy, or letting go of the hate you have toward someone who has hurt you. Showing more love may mean that you spend more time with your family, do the right and honest thing at work, or become slow to anger. Truly, there are countless ways that we can show more love each day. When we seek God’s guidance, He will show us how to love more.
To do everything in love means to let love guide our thoughts, actions, and words. To do everything in love means making choices each day that reflect obedience to Jesus and following His ways rather than our own. To do everything in love means walking the path of becoming more like Jesus, who loved humanity unconditionally even unto death on the cross.
Paul’s charge to the church of Corinth to do everything in love remains relevant to believers today. Let each of us live in such a way that we would do everything in love.
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Pamela Palmer is a writer, chaplain, and the founder of upheldlife.com, the platform on which she produces weekly devotionals and faith resource articles to inspire keeping faith at the center of it all. She lives and thrives on Jesus, coffee, and music. She is in pastoral ministry and gets to share in the emotional and spiritual lives of many people, being a small piece of each journey. Pamela married the perfect man for her and they have two beautiful kiddos. She has been published on herviewfromhome.com and you can follow her at upheldlife.com, or on Facebook.com/upheldlife.