“I love it.” “I love you.” “I LOVE these new pumps!” “Loved the pasta last night.” “How hot is Chris Pratt?? Love.”
In my mind, the word love proves to be one of the most inadequate words in the English language. How we can get from “God so loved the world” to “You’ll love the new Macca’s BLT” is quite remarkable.
Love, in the traditional sense, isn’t something we talk about a lot outside our families. In fact, I’ve heard of someone trying to mention the Bible’s classic passage on love in relation to working with young people (1 Corinthians 13) and being told “That’s just for weddings.” Well, I have news for the ignorant out there – love is the underpinning of everything we do in our lives. Accordingly, the Bible says that if we don’t have love, we don’t have much.
Here’s Paul’s classic exposition on love from 1 Corinthians 13:1-8:
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
Maybe we could contextualise this passage for the everyday challenges we face:
If I could give a rousing sermon or lead an amazing worship session, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I could create the best business plan, and built a powerful network that gave me immense influence and threw the best parties, and if I was able to organise a marketing campaign that blew everyone away, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave the most in every charity appeal and even volunteered for weeks every year, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
We can all relate to the drive to succeed, but what’s success worth if we beat down the world on our way to the top? The journey we’re on might get us somewhere, but who will be when we arrive? You might think I’m being a bit wishy-washy, but whether you’re leading a team or trying to influence your peers, think about it: when have you ever willingly listened to someone who didn’t care about you? Caring about others is an important part of getting people to perform. So even if your motivation is skewed – love is still the way!
Paul finishes his message by giving us the rundown on love:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!
It’s worth thinking about our actions: are we living love out in our day-to-day activities? We can charge ahead in life, searching for success and influence, but if we don’t love others along the way, we might just miss the point. Because unlike the latest trend, love will last forever.
That’s something worth investing in.