I find 1 Corinthians 13 to be a bit jaw dropping.
Most of us are certainly familiar with 1 Corinthians 12 - "the love chapter" which we hear frequently at weddings, and with good reason. It's a beautiful passage of scripture with very useful advice to anyone, and especially to a couple getting married.
1 Corinthians 13 continues talking about love, but pivots from practical explanation to defining the value of love. The Apostle Paul speaks in a way I wish was hyperbole, but I'm afraid is deadly accurate when he says that anything I do, if not done in love is "useless." (1 Corinthians 13:10)
I could prophesy.
I could study and gain more knowledge about God and God's kingdom than any other human being.
I could give away all my money to the poor.
I could literally lay my life down in a sacrifice for others.
But If I don't do these things out of love, "I gain nothing." (1 Corinthians 10:3)
As somebody who wrestles with selfishness, which in many ways is the opposite of love, this terrifies me. I'd rather be able to say, "I did the right stuff, who cares what my motivation was?" It's an area of my life where I'm inviting God to transform me. I don't always love well. But Jesus loves perfectly, so I'm asking him to teach me to love.
There's a really great corollary to this truth, though. If I start from a place of love, anything I do is valuable.
I was talking with somebody at church yesterday who drives a truck for a living. He was frustrated because he wanted to do something that felt like it mattered more. But according to Paul, if that man starts from loving others - his family, his coworkers, his customers, the other people on the road - what he does can matter greatly.
I wrestled with the same issue as him when I worked in corporate America. I felt I had a calling to ministry. I'm grateful I've realized that calling, but in the time I was working in corporate America, loving my coworkers made that time valuable instead of wasted.
I know followers of Jesus who wrestle with finding identity and value and purpose in their job. I believe the answer is in this portion of scripture. Whatever you do with love will matter. Whatever is done without love will not, no matter how magnificent.
I believe this is well summarized in the famous quote: "Small acts done with great love will change the world."
So if you feel frustrated with where you're at, instead of focussing on changing the circumstance immediately in order to be happy, focus first on letting God transform you. Learn to do what is in front of you with love.
And then let God choose where to place you. But know that no matter where it is, the things you do will matter when they are done with love.