“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. 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 13:1-3)
As we are made in God’s image, even although it may be a fallen and distorted image, the primary quality that should be evident in our lives is that of love. The commandments that Jesus underlined as the Great Commandments, as well as the new ones that He gave us, all have this in common:
• “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
• “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)
• “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44)
Because it is of the nature of God Himself we should not be surprised at two vital truths.
• It is the first aspect of the fruit, or consequence, of the Holy Spirit in our lives – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23)
• To enable us to live out the commandments in a fallen and selfish world we need first to receive love, so “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”(Romans 5:5)
• “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
• “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”(John 13:35)
Love is so vital and foundational that Paul says, quite categorically, that anything we do, that is not done in love, has no value whatsoever in the eyes of God. Without it,
• I am only a noise
• I am nothing
• I gain nothing.
To top it all, without love I am unhappy, unfulfilled and desperately lonely – whether I acknowledge it or not. With love, especially the love of God, I am a different person.
Ask God for more of His love to be poured into your heart. Practise loving God and others – ask yourself what love would say or do.
Wonderful Father, thank You so very much for Your great love, revealed to us in the life and death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ our Saviour and Lord. Please help me, more and more, to acknowledge that love, receive Your love, and to share Your love with others. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.