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.As I read these verses my mind races back to the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus lays bare the inadequacy of external religious rules and laws and speaks to the motives behind our actions. Jesus goes to the heart of the issue when he says:
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matthew 5:21-22)In these verses Jesus speaks to us of the real issue.. the one that law cannot address.. a motive of hate instead of one of love. Much of the gospels cover Jesus' ongoing dialog with religious leaders who did not seem to understand what it meant to have a love motive.. at one point Jesus instructs thems to go and learn what it means to be compassionate.. a rather insulting thing to say to someone who professes to be a religious leader.
I think that the life of Jesus is filled with images of what it means to love. On many occasions the gospels speak of Jesus being moved by compassion. How do you think the writers knew that Jesus was being moved that way. I suspect that Jesus was visibly moved and perhaps cried as he ministered healing to those who were hurting. In truth love was pouring out of Jesus and sometimes it poured from His eyes in the form of tears that everyone could see.. as it says in Hebrews Jesus is touched by our weaknesses.
The message that Jesus came to bring and demonstrate is that, as Paul says, we are nothing if we do not act with a love motive. We are nothing when we are not compassionate. We are nothing when we are arrogant, envious, prideful and selfish. But.. and this is a big but.. we are something when we love.. we are something when we are patient, humble, forgiving and kind.. we are something when we bear with people.. we are something when we believe the best about the them and hope with them.
We are something because when we love we are like God.