Another of Paul’s ‘bullet points’, pithily expressed, but sometimes easier said than done!
The previous verse says love must be genuine, not hypocritical, but if I genuinely don’t like someone, how can I love them? Well, for Paul ‘love’ is more about what people do than about how they feel. We talk about people being ‘devoted to each other’ as if it’s synonymous with loving each other; but the verb ‘devote’ simply means to commit yourself fully to something or somebody, which implies a conscious decision.
In the early church ‘love’ was often connected with helping other people out in their various needs, not least ﬁnancial, rather than necessarily having warm feelings towards them. Of course, this can be done as a duty, in a cold and patronising manner, but the fact is that if we behave towards somebody as if we genuinely did love them, to our surprise, our care and concern for the other person’s welfare really does seem to grow. What’s more, if we wait until we are sure our motives are absolutely pure we might not actually get anything done at all!
So maybe devotion does, in the end, equate to love - love in the sense St Paul means it - after all.