“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”
Paul comes to a climax in his hyperboles by presenting two areas of maximum production as great acts without love:
giving all our possessions
giving even our lives sacrificially.
Paul deals with the hypothetical again (a third class condition in the Greek).
I bestow all my goods to feed the poor,
Hypothetically, the situation is selling everything we have and giving it to the poor. This is impressive to others in the congregation but not to God if people do it without love. Benevolence without love is hollow even though people speak well of us.
This is hypothetical again.
I give my body to be burned,
Giving our body to be burned as a martyr is a horrific form of martyrdom. Nothing could be of greater sacrifice, but it does not profit us if we do not do it out of love.
but have not love, it profits me nothing.
The word “profits” means to prevail, to be advantageous, beneficial, useful, or expedient. Doing things without love is not beneficial to us personally. Note the progression of “nothing:”
- I say nothing, v. 1
- I am nothing, v. 2
- I gain nothing, v. 3
Sacrifice without love is not profitable.
Self-sacrifice can be self-centered. The right thing done in the wrong way is wrong. Great acts of philanthropy without love are of little value. Great acts of sacrifice do not necessarily imply love. People can sacrifice for many reasons, such as gaining the approbation of others or even of God. These sacrifices benefit others but not the one who bestows the sacrifice. The formula looks like this: gifts minus love equal nothing (G-L=0). Preaching minus love equals zero; helping minus love equals zero.