What’s Love Got to do With It?
I recently heard my husband, Jody, explain 1 Corinthians 13:1 in a way that caused me to pause and ponder! I love it when the Word of God is revealed new and fresh, and I’m thankful for my man of God who continues to challenge me in the Word.
To me, seeing an unexpected nuance in the Word of God is like reaching into a Whitman’s assorted box of chocolates and getting a piece filled with ooey-gooey caramel.
I am very familiar with 1 Corinthians 13 and can say it at the drop of a hat. Each morning as we walk our dog, Jody and I recite a few chapters from the Bible. Our favorite chapters are Romans 8, Psalms 34 and 1 Corinthians 13. We have done this for years. The words are well established in our hearts, but because the Bible is literally God (John 1:1) the impact it makes on our hearts is ever changing and always powerful in a “just what we needed” kind of way. This past Sunday during one of the Marriage Groups we lead, was one of those sweet moments!
We were half way through the lesson when Jody left script. He stated that 1 Corinthians 13 is an important chapter on the “how to’s of love,” and that the first verse can’t be skimmed over. He said it is the crux of the entire chapter and must be understood if we are to have our marriage reflect the Gospel. The first verse of 1 Corinthians 13 states, “If I speak with the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” He explained that messages devoid of love, even when delivered by eloquent speakers or with the melodious sounds of a perfect angelic speaking voice, sounds like GONGS to those who know and understand true love! And from this platform, the rest of the chapter is launched, not in spite of this verse, but based on this verse. None of the rest can be possible without love. We cannot be patient or kind if we do not first love; we are just noise!
As Jody was talking about this important principle in marriage, my mind wandered. I made the leap to other aspects of my life that frustrate me, and at times are incredibly loud. No wonder the evening news gives me a headache – all that gonging! It all makes sense! In a world filled with political babble, social agenda and circular conversations about morality, much of it sounds like NOISE. Why? Because it is missing God, the author of love! The world cannot fix a spiritual problem with a worldly solution. Jesus and His example of self-sacrificing love is the only answer. The dribble we come up with on our own is just a resounding gong!
And the hits on the cymbals keep coming. Many couples find themselves on the counselling couch over and over again. They know what to say, how to verbalize discontent and how to make polite requests. Yet, they still irritate their spouse. Why? Because their words are absent of love. Blame it on the GONG! An absence of love is probably the reason why churches split and believers quarrel and do not seek to make things right. These people are not motivated by the love of God. They believe that their angelic appearance and sweet self-righteous mouths are enough. But the rest of us, and the world too, hear only a cacophony of cymbals and gongs, all of which are devoid of love! I believe this is also the reason why the US is falling behind almost every other nation in converts to Christianity – much of the American church has forgotten the importance of loving one another (1 John 3:11). Why would anyone want to join such a noisy unloving bunch?
Jesus makes everything simple – Love God and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40). We complicate life with soul-crushing legalism and our own self-importance. LOVE EACH OTHER, PEOPLE!
Now I’m not talking about a sappy and meaningless Hallmark version of love – love without truth is just a fantasy. We cannot forget the truths of the Gospel. And please don’t forget, the truths of the Gospel may not be heard over the racket our unloving behavior. GONG!
So, the answer to Tina Turner’s famous question, “What’s love got to do with it?” is this: ALMOST EVERYTHING! Love rolled up with the truth of the Gospel is everything! Do you believe it? If you answer, “Yes,” Hallelujah! So then, roll up your sleeves; it is time to get busy! And make sure your actions match your words. Keep reading, friend.
LOVE YOUR SPOUSE
If you are struggling in your marriage, ask God to point out the unloving parts of your heart. Surrender again to Him and embrace the way He commands us to love. Then love your spouse this way! Let nothing you do be motivated by the desire to be right or the winner. Instead, apply love to your every step (Matthew 25:40). Practice repentance and forgiveness as often as is needed; daily, if you are human like me. Do not allow love to be replaced with bitterness. Guard your heart – the well spring of life (Proverbs 4:23). How can we expect to love our neighbor if we can’t handle the simple task of loving our spouse?
LOVE YOUR CHILDREN
If you are a parent who does not have time to discipline your child, go back and read what the Word of God has to say about that (Ephesians 6:4, Proverbs 10:17, Proverbs 12:1, Proverbs 13:24). I am thankful that God chastens me. He chastens me to show me that He loves me (Revelations 3:19)! I know that I’m meddling, but it is not because I want to hurt your feelings. I am meddling because as your older sister in Christ, I see the pitfalls that lay ahead for you (Titus 2:4). God did not command us to discipline our children because He doesn’t like children. On the contrary, God highly esteems children (Matthew 19:14)! He knows what is best for your children. He knows what is best for you. So put the phone down and turn-off Netflix. The laundry can wait until later. In love, handle the most important thing first! Shepherd your child’s heart. Do not permit the noise of your behavior to smother the message of love for your children. And if it gets exhausting, remember that this is how God feels about you. Then thank Him for being slow to anger and filled with compassion (Psalms 145:8)! 😊
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR
If you have an unbelieving neighbor, love them well. The love of God will speak volumes over any well-rehearsed faux evangelistic speech. Be genuine. Be patient, be kind, and keep no record of wrongs, even if that involves your neighbor’s dog that keeps pooping on your yard! Ask God to show you ways in which you can love your neighbor. Ask your neighbor how they are doing and then quietly listen to their response. Help anytime you are able and let them know you are praying for them. That may be all the words you have to use. That’s o.k. Love stands out and speaks in a loud voice and draws people to God, if we will just allow Him to use us.
If you do not like having people over or inside your house, pray for God to convict you and to show you how better love your neighbors and community. I read a great book this past summer. It is titled, “The Gospel comes with a House Key.” This well-written book by Rosario Butterfield is about her lifetime of opening her home. She is right. When we understand God’s love and the truth of the Gospel, we see our homes differently. We should be more motivated by God and His use of our homes for His glory and His purpose than we are by our desire for privacy. If we see our homes in this way, we begin to set them up not as a showcase home, but as a place where people feel loved and comfortable. Let love fill your home. Then watch how God changes your neighborhood!
LOVE THE BODY OF CHRIST
If you are a Christian and you have never discipled another believer in Christ, I challenge you to start. We are often filled with doubts about our own ability, perceived constraints of time and a lack of natural wisdom or Biblical knowledge. Kick those doubts to the curb! GONG! With God’s love in your heart, with full knowledge of who you are in Christ and with obedience to Jesus’s command in Matthew 28 :18-20, grab another sister’s hand, pull her along and walk-out the Gospel together. You will never “feel able” or fully prepared until you stand in front of Jesus in your perfected self. By then, my friends, it will be too late. Trust that God will cause His spirit in you to rise up and lead your steps as you lead the way for another Believer, by your side, to grow in the knowledge of Christ.
If you are a Christian and do not serve the body, its time to get busy. If your love for God and His church, the body of believers, is only lip service, you are only a “noisy gong and a clanging cymbal.” Find a place to join and lovingly get to work. God does not make junk! I know that you were designed to serve Him well and in a very specific way. And until that way is revealed, help your church with its least objectionable thing. Because you are obedient and faithful in this little thing, God will reward your efforts. Don’t get stuck in spiritual paralysis. For years, perhaps decades, I have heard Christians say, “I am not serving because I do not know what God wants me to do with my life.” My answer to these people is this: Open His word and obey the commands He gives to all of us. Spiritual gifting may take time to sort out, but obedience will always be honored. Start by loving your brothers and sisters, even if the help needed in your church is for the little brothers and sisters in the toddler’s room! 😊
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37).”
“Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up (Deuteronomy 6:4-7).”
My prayer is that you will surrender and allow God’s love to shine through you to your spouse, to your children, to your neighbor, and to the body of Christ. May you live your life in such a way that that the world comes to know God. May God receive all the glory (1 Corinthians 10:31)! Amen!
Stay washed in the Word, friends!
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
This is the great and first commandment.
And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”