Love – the Missing Ingredient
God judges us by a different measure than we judge ourselves and others. It seems that God isn’t so impressed with the rich and famous. Or the good looking and the intelligent. We can be dedicated and hardworking and know our Bible’s backwards and forwards and have a strong faith in God. But without the missing ingredient all that isn’t enough! And the missing ingredient is love! Scripture says that God judges us on how much we love! That is everything to Him!
This judgment of God’s does not have to do with whether we go to heaven and have eternal life or not. Scripture says we don’t earn our salvation. By faith we are given that free gift through our Lord Jesus Christ. But then if we have eternal life through Christ but misuse the earthly talents God gives us, we will have nothing to show for those God entrusted talents when we get over on the other side! When He asks what we did with what He gave us, what will we say?
Are we using the talents God left us lovingly or are we using them selfishly and with little concern for others? Scripture says that love is what God wants from His children. We are to be loving like our Father, God. And Scripture says that God is love and we His children are to be full of love also. (1 John 4)
Let’s listen to what Scripture says: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become a sounding brass and a clanging cymbal. 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, but have not love, I am nothing. 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 13:1-3)
The “love chapter” 1 Corinthians 13 is saying that without love, we are nothing! Absolutely nothing! Without love spiritual wisdom and Christian ethics and God talk amount to nothing more than a lot of clanking noise. (1 Corinthians 13:3) The Pharisees and religious leaders who were responsible for sending Jesus to the cross were supposed “men of God”. They had given their whole lives to studying God’s Word and they had all of the correct answers. But because they lacked love, their perfect doctrine didn’t seem to help them recognize their Savior and Messiah when He came to them! Without love they were blind and couldn’t see the Lord Jesus Christ when He was standing right in front of them!
And there are modern day Pharisees right here today among us that may be making that same mistake. We have been in some good Bible believing church groups where proud people believed all of the correct doctrines. Competitive folk with all of the latest answers. Somehow we weren’t always accepted in these groups even though we tried hard to fit in. Good Christians becoming judgmental and critical and leaving love behind. Never taking time for their lost brother or giving help to the struggling sinner. And worse yet, mixing their Jesus in with all of their criticism and hate! So easy to do. And so dangerous.
We Christians have the truth and we want to make change in our society. With our money and power, we will take back the night and make our nation great! Like the Pharisees in Jesus’ time, today modern day Pharisees have conservative teachings and pure doctrines but may have forgotten the missing ingredient. – the ingredient of love!
The “love chapter” describes what love is! Let’s listen: “Love suffers long and is kind. Love does not envy; love does not parade itself: is not puffed up. Does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil. Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but it rejoices in the truth. Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. “ (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
Love in the Scriptures is described as gentle and suffering. Never failing. Never pushy or rude. Never parading itself about insisting on its own way. We are to die to ourselves and let the Spirit of Christ work in us. The Spirit of Christ always works in us with love. And love wins battles.
Jesus never won battles with money and power. His ways were never showy or confrontational. Jesus won the battle with love – love that took him to the cross to die for us. He insisted that His kingdom was of another world. And He tells us to follow Him. To “Love our enemies” (Matthew 5:43-48, Luke 6:27-36) and when we are slapped on one cheek to “Turn the other cheek”. (Luke 6:29, Matthew 5:29) Let’s ask the Lord to love others through us. And help us be able to love our enemies.
The “Love Chapter” closes this way. “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will fail: where there are tongues, they will cease, where there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For now we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child. I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abides faith, hope, love, these three: but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:8-13)