Having Spiritual Gifts Without Expressing Them in Love To the World—-It’s Like A $750,000 NASCAR Race Car Without Any Fuel

Posted: July 16, 2015 in 46-1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 13 — Today, we land on one of the most well known chapters in the New Testament. Dare, I say it. It may be one of the most well known chapters in the entire Bible. Sometimes, it is affectionately called “The Looooove Chapter” (think me doing my Barry White impression…just kidding). It is often quoted. It is often used at weddings. It is the ultimate expression of the fact that life is meaningless without love. Since this chapter of 1 Corinthians is such an important expression of what it means to be a Christ follower, we will spend a few days here. First, we will look at how our talents and gifts given by God are meaningless unless we use them in love for others. Next, we will spend a few days looking at the characteristics of love. Then, finally, we will look at how love is the only thing that endures eternally.

Today, let’s look at what our spiritual gifts mean without love. Paul says even if I am capable of speaking in tongues of languages known only to angels and I do not have love, I am just a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. He goes on to say that even if I have the gift of prophecy and understand God’s secret plans for a specific people at a specific time, that is great but it is meaningless if I do not love. If I have great faith that can move mountains but I do not have love for my fellow man in my heart then it is nothing. If I am generous with my money to the point of giving it all away to the poor, but I do not love those to whom I give it then is worthless. Even I go to the stake and give up my life for the cause of Christ but do not love others, then I have wasted my death. According to the song by King & Country, “let my life be the proof of your love.” Anything less is wasted time. Anything less is just an academic exercise.

These are pretty strong words from the Apostle Paul. He is saying that it does not matter what your spiritual gifts are, they are meaningless in the absence of love. Love is the distinguishing characteristic of Christ followers. Many ask why the church spends its money on trying to do things for the community when there are many government and privately funded service agencies out there that can do the same thing. The difference is love. These agencies, yes, can do things for the community just like the church can but do their actions promote love. Do their actions point people to Jesus Christ. All of these agencies have qualifications for who they can help. The mark of a Christ following church is not qualification, it is love without exception. The mark of a Christ follower is to love the world around us without expectation of payback. Our motivation for loving people without expectation is because we received the same unmerited, unwarranted gift from a loving God who sent His Son to reconcile us to Himself through His Son’s sacrifice for sin on the cross. Jesus showed us that love is our motivating factor in his life and ministry on earth. Jesus showed his love of His Father in heaven and His love for you and I who had not even yet been born by sacrificing Himself as sin on the cross so that we could be made right with God. That is love my friends. Love unparalleled. Paul says we should be imitators of Christ in this way. Everything that we do should be motivated by love. Love should cause us to put our gifts into action in loving others.

If I read my Bible daily but do not put its commands into action, then it is just an academic exercise. If I give to the church out of compulsion or sense of guilt rather than love of our Father in heaven and trusting that it will be used to further the kingdom, then I am just as miserly as the man who holds on to all his money. If I sit in Sunday School or small group and talk about love and talk about the theology of Christianity and talk about the truths of the Bible but yet do not show love to the world around me by giving of myself to others, then it is meaningless. If I go to seminary and become an expert on the Bible and can write endless blogs on biblical application but do not live out what I have learned, then I am just a piano that is out of tune, worthless. Paul’s contemporary in Jerusalem and the brother of Jesus, James said in James 2:15-16 that, basically, if I walk by a hungry man and tell him that you will pray for him and keep on walking rather than stopping and feeding him then what good is that? If we do not have love in our hearts, the practice of Christianity is meaningless. If we are not putting our faith into action to show the world uncommon love that is a reflection of the love of Jesus Christ, then it is all just utter meaninglessness. For example, if we know from Scripture that same-sex marriage is wrong but we express that to the world in hateful ways, it becomes meaningless that it is wrong. We must craft all of our responses to the world in ways that demonstrate the truth of God’s Word in love.

Love is an action. It is a verb. It requires that we become involved. It requires that we take action. Anything less is just academia. Love requires that we get to know people. Love requires that we take risks. Love requires that we get out of our comfort zone. Jesus loved us to the point of dying for us. Should we not do the same with the world around us. Jesus went to the cross for sinners so that they could have a way to be made right with the Lord. Love requires that we take action in the same way. Love is action. It means getting messy in people’s mess. It means loving people that may not love us back. Love is like the fuel to a NASCAR racecar. Without the fuel, it is just a $750,000 paper weight. It must have fuel to be made into what it was intended to be. We can have all the spiritual gifts in the world but if we do not use these gifts to show the love of Christ to the world around us, we are just racing cars without fuel. We must let love spurn us to action. We must let love call us to involvement in the world. We must not sit on the sidelines and bemoan how the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Love calls us to action. Love calls us to get involved. Love calls us to do the hard work of getting to know people who are different from us. Love calls us to seek change. Love calls to seek common ground. Love calls us to see the need for salvation in others as greater than my need to be offended by the behavior of others.

Love calls us to be like Jesus. Love calls us to action. He broke into human history to show us His love. We are called to use our individual gifts and talents to show love to the world. Anything less is just us being glorified paperweights.

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