The Saint Paul commences 1st Corinthians 13 by showing that apart from love, spiritual gifts such tongues, faith and prophecy are meaningless and impious:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-2
However, before he starts on what love is and isn't, he says something that very shocking:
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:3
This revelation, I believe is quite shocking and frightening!!!! Normally one would think that a giving is done in love and especially being martyred are signs that you are a true Christian. However, Paul makes it clear that not all those who give their lives for Christ Jesus are true or that it is out of love for Him.
This is frightening.
The reason this is shocking is because one would think that if you give to the poor then you are being a loving person. One would also think that if you die as a martyr you are sincere in your faith and being a loving person. Yet the Saint Paul says that it is possible to die as a martyr and yet not be loving. This verse frightens me to some degree. When I think of my many Christian brethren who are being martyred in countries like China, Egypt, Pakistan, Somalia and Iraq for their Christian faith, I wonder if they are truly saved when they show their willingness to die for their faith or if their desire to die comes from vain-glory or masochism (a love for having pain inflicted one's self). At first take, giving to the poor looks like a loving act yet the King of Kings said that one can give from bad motives (Matt. 6:1-4). Also there are people who are martyred as well for Christ Jesus and it seems like they are sincere in their faith. However, this verse shows that you can get killed for Christ and not have good motives. And without good motives, that makes martyrdom or the good deeds null and void in God's sight.
This requires all Chistians, especially those on death row for their faith in Christ, to really examine themselves before they go off to be executed. It also says that not only should every deed we do be loving, but it should be done out of love for God the Father and God the Son (1 Corinthians 16:14). At the end of the day, this verse shows that, "The Lord knows those who are his."