Here’s a love story that’s BIGGER than yourself … and one other person. It comes from a chapter in the Bible appropriately named the “Love Chapter”.
Yes, I know. We’ve all read this chapter and probably pseudo-memorized the words. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it doesn’t leave the toilet seat up …” (read it for yourself–1 Corinthians 13).
Beautiful words for Valentine’s Day, but the story is not complete. The trick is that we started reciting the chapter at verse 4. Now if this were Psalms 119, then that would be no big deal. But this chapter only has 13 verses to it. We missed an entire quarter of what Paul has to say about love.
The truth is that I never understood WHO this chapter applies to until I started at the beginning. Paul’s purpose for writing this chapter is to teach on spiritual gifts–which is Christianese for “witnessing tools”. In other words, if you’re going to build a house, then you need tools: a hammer, saw, tape measure … that should be enough. If you’re going to witness to people, then you need tools as well; which God has provided us!
Paul talks a lot about “witnessing tools” in 1 Corinthians. And when he gets to chapter 13, he decides to unveil the best tool of all. Any guesses?
The conclusion is that LOVE trumps all other tools. In fact, without love, all of our other tools are useless. It would be like owning a beautiful set of cordless power tools, but no battery charger. Take a look for yourself:
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
1 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 2If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. 3-7If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Human eloquence is reduced to a creaking gate. No matter the size of my talents, faith and actions, I am bankrupt without love. (By the way, anyone notice my flawless transition to The Message? 😉 )
Life changing, isn’t it? All of a sudden, this chapter is transformed from a mooshy-gooshy love story into an action item. Do you want to impact people with your talents? Do you want your words and teachings to be meaningful? Do you want to spread God’s Word throughout the world, throughout your community?
Then you have to apply LOVE!
Now read the rest of the chapter, the part you almost have memorized, and ask God how you can APPLY this love to everyone you encounter!
Happy Valentines Day!