This passage of 1 Corinthians is one with which most of us are familiar. We are the body of Christ, and we are endowed with a variety of gifts, yet none has value without love. Paul refers to "love" as the more "excellent way."
It's easy to fool ourselves into thinking that our actions are motivated by love. So, how can we know? Is there a test? How is love reflected? Perhaps through an embrace, a smile, or words from others? What about that final reflection -- at your viewing?
When I was a little girl, I attended many funerals with my parents. That meant going to the viewing the night before. One such time, while my parents were engaged in conversation with friends, I decided to check out other areas of the funeral home. Two doors down, I noticed a viewing room with an open casket, but with no one around. I looked for the name of the deceased, but instead I found a notice. It read, "No Visitors." I was surprised to find such a notice in a funeral home. I glanced around. No one was near, so I walked up to the casket. The deceased was a man. He was dressed in a suit and tie. He wasn't very old. Maybe 60. I stared at him for awhile, and I felt sad. No one was there to speak about his life. No one was there to mourn his death. No one was there to pray for him. There were no pictures of him holding a baby or laughing with friends. I said a quick prayer for his soul, and I left.
The number of people at your viewing may not be indicative of whether or not you led a life guided by love, but their absence may speak volumes.
Will you find the excellent way to manifest your gifts, or will you speak in the tongues of angels, understand everything, sacrifice everything, yet gain nothing, be nothing, die only to never have existed in the hearts and minds and lives of others?
Dear God, please grant us the grace to use our spiritual gifts in the most excellent way we can, as Christians motivated by love. Amen.