That’s right! In the Kingdom of God…Love is the thing! I think we ministers sometimes err in our thinking and our teaching with our almost total focus on “truth”. Now, don’t get me wrong. Jesus is the Truth! Truth sets people free! We have the truth, teach and preach the truth and of course, the truth is indispensable in ministry. But, so is love. The Apostle Paul taught us to “speak the truth IN LOVE”. (Ephesians 4:15)
God IS love. God SO LOVED the world that He sent his son! Jesus talked about how the Father LOVES us. He taught us to LOVE one another just as He LOVES us. He even said that our LOVE for one another would make us recognizable as his followers to the world. Then, to top it all off, He commands us to even LOVE OUR ENEMIES! Whaaaaaat??? Yeah! LOVE really is a big, big deal.
John wrote that if we don’t love, we don’t love or even know the Father.
If a man say, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves
not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
1 John 4:20
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves
is born of God and knows God. He that loves not knows not God; for God is
1 John 4:7
Love is to be the great manifestation of God in our lives! God’s love is to be received by us, saturate us, motivate and move us, as well as be the prominent attribute of our lives! When love is in us, God is in us. When we walk in love, we walk in God. When we love, God is manifesting in our midst.
This love is the (Greek) “agape” love of God! It shouldn’t be confused with mere friendship love, the love of preference (such as I love pizza, or I love my dog), nor with any kind of romantic or sexual love. No. We’re talking about the sacrificing, giving, “putting others first” kind of love that God has toward us.
So, it’s the GOD KIND of love. It’s pure. It has no interest in self. It’s focus is the good and blessing of others. And yeah, you guessed it. It requires God living in us to produce it. Love is the manifestation of God’s presence in our lives!
Living for Jesus is all about the Love! He loves us. We are to love Him. We are to love those whom He loves and we are to be love missionaries to a dark, confused, sinful and unloving world! That’s our calling! The Apostle Paul emphasized the necessity of this love in the great love chapter of the Bible.
Though I speak with the languages of angels, and have not love, I am become
as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
1 Corinthians 13:1
What is Paul saying? He’s saying that if my words aren’t spoken with love, I’m just making noise! In other words, my words aren’t coming across. No one is hearing what I’m saying. What I’m saying is lost as far as effect…no matter how heavenly or eloquent I may think they are. If this is true, perhaps we shouldn’t speak at all until we know our words are saturated with love. Paul continues.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all
knowledge; and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains and
have not love, I am nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:2
It’s sad, but often true. Those who manifest spiritual gifts sometimes begin to think they “are really something”! They’re tempted at times to think they are “Super Christians”. The fact is however, that the gifts of the Spirit are just that; “gifts”! They are not “earnings” and they are not any sort of “proof” that a Christian is superior or more holy than others at all. In fact, it’s possible for believers to have spiritual gifts and still be quite carnal. So Paul points out that even if we have powerful and impressive gifts, if we don’t minister them in love, we really “are nothing” at all. That sounds a little harsh but I think he makes a huge point. Paul said on another occasion that we shouldn’t think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. Good advice I think. Humility is becoming to a Christian and a lack of it gets really, really ugly.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body
to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:3
We often hear about giving and receiving, sowing and reaping, blessing others and being blessed. It’s a beautiful promise and principle taught thoughout scripture. I believe in it. This concept has saved my life and salvaged my blessing so many times in life. I practice it. I teach it. But…Paul clarifies something here for us. He writes that love must be the motivation in our giving! He warns us that if love is not our motivation, then there is no profit, no reward, no “pressed down, shaken together and running over” blessing in our lives. You see, It’s possible to plant seed but still experience a harvest failure. Our seed must be planted in love!
Paul even gives us a rather extreme example of missing the boat in our giving. He states that even if we gave our body to be burned, even if we are martyred for Christ Jesus, love must be our motive…or it profits us nothing!
When we give financially to our church and to the gospel, we must give because we love God, love people and love the cause! We must first be seeking the Kingdom of God…in love…and not our own blessing!
When we give to our family, it should never be because we’re obligated to them but rather, because we love them! When we give to the poor, to charity, to worthy causes, it should never be about getting recognized, publicly named, or advantaged in any way. If we do, then we have our reward…and a puny, earthly one at that. To receive a godly, heavenly, eternal and abundant reward though…we must give our gifts in love!
“How should we then live?”, as the theologian Francis Shaeffer asked years ago. We should live in love! Knowing that God truly loves us, we are to love our brother, our neighbor and our enemy. We are to walk in love imitating God. We are to let love fill our every motive, word and action. This is the key to living the victorious Christian life! Faith is the victory that overcomes the world but also remember, “Faith works by love”. (Galatians 5:6)
Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:8