Love. Without it, what matters?
The first three verses of I Corinthians 13 are not often read at weddings. People want to get to the “good” stuff about what Love is and is not. However, these verses emphasize clearly that whatever else your ability, your knowledge, or your generosity, if you do not have the key ingredient of Love, there is no usefulness, gain, or benefit.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1Co 13:1-3)
It is worth reading that part of this passage over slowly a couple of times. IF I.. (fill in the blank) but do not have LOVE then whatever I can do, whatever I know, whatever I have given in charity I will not be benefited by it.
In a recent Olympic trial run a British athlete accomplished a personal best in a running event using the hurdles. However, after the trial race was run, the time was not recorded as a record because…the track did not contain the correct number of hurdles. The officials had missed counted and put one fewer than was necessary. All that effort and, yet, it was in vain. If I run the best time but do not have the correct number of hurdles, I gain nothing.
Paul said that, in his life, he constantly buffeted his body and disciplined himself, to be sure that after he had run the race, that he would not be disqualified. Only those who run lawfully win the prize. (I cor 9:27, 2 tim 2:5)
So it is with our lives. We can accomplish great and maginificent things for the Lord, we can do much to help other people, we might even solve world hunger and win Nobel peace prizes but, if we do not have Love…it does not profit us a single thing.
I hope you realize that Paul is not talking about profit in this life but profit in the life to come. We may fool men, we may even fool ourselves, but we will not fool God.
Read those characteristics that follow and substitute your name in there in place of Love. Steven is Kind, Steven is long suffering, etc. etc. Does it fit you? Is that really YOU? I don’t mean that you have to be perfect in this but in general, would someone say that your character is made up of these descriptions?
As we look at the characteristics that make up Agape love, let’s remember that we are not trying to gain one or two of them, we want them all. In pursuit of a higher calling we try to become more like God because, after all, God is love. And, if you have not God or Love, what else matters!