by Pastor Rob Bloss
Do you remember the first time you told someone other than a family member that you loved them? I wrote it on a piece of paper, folded it up 25 different ways, and handed it to a friend, who handed it to a friend, who handed it to Holly H. Nothing came of it and it was never spoken of again, until now!
Love is a simple but very complicated word. Some people love pizza and puppies, or football and bacon, or sleep and coffee. As followers of Christ we are commanded to love God, our neighbors and our enemies. Husbands are to love their wives. (I’ll let the other Rob break that one down this weekend!)
I’m reminded daily that I still have a lot to learn when it comes to love. I’m not going to throw anyone under the bus, but sometimes people are hard to love! Sometimes I’m hard to love! Apparently, Holly thought so?
Some kids were asked how to make love last. Tom, age 7, said, “Spend most of your time loving instead of going to work.” Roger, who is 8, said, “Don’t forget your wife’s name…that will mess up the love.” And Randy, also 8, said, “Be a good kisser. It might make your wife forget that you never take out the trash.” Good advice!
Love isn’t easy, or cheap or without consequences. But I know this, it is better to love than to not love.
We know I Corinthians 13 as the love chapter. It’s recited as a well-worn litany at weddings to remind couples about what real love is. But what if love isn’t – what if we don’t give it away? The first three verses remind us of the consequences of living without love.
Without love all that I say is ineffective.
Verse 1 - "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal." Words without love are empty, they’re just noise. The world is impressed by great communicators and charisma. But God isn't. It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. People don’t want to listen to someone who doesn’t care about them. That’s why we are told in Ephesians to “Speak the truth in love…”
Without love all that I know is incomplete.
V. 2 - "If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge...but have not love, I am nothing." You can be a genius, a walking Bible encyclopedia, memorize and quote the whole New Testament, split a theological hair sixteen different ways, but does that make you a big deal? I Corinthians 8:1 puts it this way - "Knowledge puffs up, but loves builds up." It's better to have a right heart than it is to have the right answer.
Without love all that I believe is insufficient.
Second part of v. 2 - "If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." There is a misconception that being a Christian is all about believing certain truths or holding to particular doctrinal positions. But do we love Jesus? Do we realize He loves us? Do we love other people in Jesus' name? Christianity is a lifestyle, a lifestyle of love. It’s being a disciple who is walking in love.
Galatians 5:6 tells us, "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." Memorize it and when you’re overloaded and overwhelmed with all you have to do, recall that the only thing that counts is faith expressed through love.
Without love all that I give is insignificant.
Look at verse 3: "If I give away all I have…but have not love, I gain nothing." This says we can give everything we’ve got and still not have love. Why? Because we can give with selfish motives. Some people give for prestige, to get their name on a plaque. Some people give for power, to control people. We can give out of obligation, or out of guilt. Just because we give doesn't mean we’re doing it in love.
Without love all I accomplish is inadequate.
v. 3 (Living Bible) "If I were burned alive for preaching the Gospel, but I didn't love others, it would be of no value whatever." I can rack up a list of impressive achievements, I can succeed in all kinds of great accomplishments, I can even sacrifice my life for the greatest cause in the world -- the kingdom of God -- but without love it's wasted effort.
The point in these three short verses is to say that relationships, both with Jesus and with others, are more important than accomplishments in life. Success without love is empty. Paul uses repetition for emphasis. He hits this from five different angles: All I give ... All I say... All I know... All I do... All I believe.... All these things are worthless without love. Life minus love equals zero.