Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Greatest of These

Originally posted Friday October, 15 2004

Wouldn’t it be great to win $10 million? Who among us hasn’t taken time to dream about what we would do with that type of money? Of course being Christians we think about the good we could do with the money: the orphans we could help, the missionaries we would support, and the ministries we would start. After all we are not greedy; we just want to be comfortable.

I don’t know about you, but I often play the “if only” game. If only I had $10 million I would use it for God’s glory. If only I had courage I would plant a church. If only I had the ability I would lead worship. The list could go on and on, but I think you understand my point. I tend to think that if I had a couple of additional talents or blessings I would be able to do so much more for the Kingdom.

The truth is that our gifts have very little to do with the difference we make in this world. The important thing in God’s eyes are not our talents, but our love. God is the Creator, and He can provide us with the gifts we need to accomplish the task He has called us to do. The one thing God cannot do is make us love. Love is a choice which we make. It is a product of our free will.

We may be jealous over the amazing talent someone else has, but what makes those talents meaningful and effective is love. Without love our gifts are meaningless. That was the apostle Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 13:
If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn’t love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others, what good would I be? And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, without love I would be no good to anybody. 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 be of no value whatsoever (1 Corinthians 13:1-3; NLT).

Paul wants us to understand that the power behind our talents is love, and if we don’t have love then we what we are doing is ultimately meaningless. I think this is an important truth that we should ponder for a while. All the money in the world and all the awards that are won do not mean a thing without love. Love for God and love for people. Are you allowing love to power your talents?

While all the blessing God gives us are wonderful and amazing, none of them has the impact to influence another person outside of our decision to use those blessings in love. Love shows people we care about them. It makes our message both authentic and relevant in their lives.

While love is a choice, I think it is essential to remember that love was first a gift. The apostle John wrote; This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins (1 John 4:10; NLT). Because God first loved us we are able to love those around us. It is through His love overflowing from our lives that we are able to change the world. That is why the greatest gift God has given us is love, and that is why He wants us to keep giving it away.


Ruth said...

Love is truly the greatest thing. Loving God with all our hearts, minds, and souls is the greatest commandment Jesus gave us, and loving our neighbor a close second. Jesus even warns us that in the end, the love of many will grow cold (Matthew 24:12).

But I disagree with the statement "The one thing God cannot do is make us love." God can do anything. His Word talks about God hardening hearts and turning hearts of "stone" into hearts of "flesh" (Ezekial 11:19 and 36:26). Love is a fruit of the Spirit dwelling in us (Galatians 5:22, 2 Corinthians 8:16). I don't believe natural man is capable of loving in the way Jesus meant in the two great commandments; instead, we love as He enables us to love.

And you remind us of a good point: without sincere love, as Paul explains, all our efforts would be empty; the outpouring of merciful works in a Christian's life begins with a heart transformed by God and filled with His love.

Paul said...

Ruth, thanks for stopping by and commenting again. I appreciate your position and I agree that God enables us to love. The reason that I am more loving and compassionate than I once was is because of the Holy Spirit working in my life. So hopefully we can focus on what we agree on and not on what we disagree about.

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