What's Love Got To Do With It?

I woke up this morning thinking about a scripture from the thirteenth chapter of first Corinthians. That chapter is sometimes called the love chapter because of its focus on, and definition of, love. It's placement in Paul's letter is an interesting one because it falls between two chapters (twelve and fourteen) that address spiritual gifts in the body of Christ. It is like he was saying that spiritual gifts only operated in the way that they were designed to when love is present. Consider these verses that begin the chapter:
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.


  1. Oh Bob it says it ALL. This is what Christmas & Easter and ...... is all about. L-O-V-E

  2. Wait, so love's not a 2nd hand emotion? ;-)

    A friend posted this quote recently and I really like it.

    "We need not perfect ourselves to earn the right to be loved. Love and mercy are not prizes for good behaviour; they are the ingredients that allow us to heal and to become more fully human." ~W. Muller.

  3. WOW, Bob! I've never thought of these scriptures in this light, but I really think you're on to something. It makes perfect sense that the spiritual gifts would/will not operate when love isn't present. If love isn't present, then God isn't present (in the act) either because He IS love. And if love isn't present, then trying to operate the gifts is merely an act of our will and not His....

    Wow, Wow, WOW!

  4. Great! Just what I have been thinking about recently. Real love is proved by our actions... A real challenge to examine myself. :)

  5. Yes so true. As my darling Nan used to say Love covers a multitude of sins. If we truely love we are just as the love chapter says; patient, kind, humble, bears all things. As Mike says love is proved by our actions.


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