If I Have Not Love, But Know Everything Else

I Cor 13:1: “Though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and have all knowledge, but have not love, it profits me nothing…”

Charity, Love.  Love your neighbor. We know about all that of course.  We’ve heard it so many times.  At least we should understand it. We should be practicing it.  But do we? Are we?  Parts of the Christian world really do seem to get it.  There are those who care, who serve, who give, who help and mean it, not just for show or reward, but from the bottom of their hearts, out of Godly love.  They know we are meant to be brothers and sisters in Christ, actual good Samarians to our neighbors, and lights to the world, not just by preaching, but also by action (Matt 5:14).   But in parts of the Christian world, I believe we’re completely missing it in relation to the concept of love.

Instead, we are sure we love God so much through only our uptake of biblical knowledge that, that must mean we love our neighbor, too.  We follow every aspect of biblical law, every commandment to a tee and we are tithing to the right church – THE Church.  That IS all there is to love, so we are led to believe by some church groups. We also observe  every Sabbath and every Holy Day.  We can even read ancient Greek and Hebrew and cross-reference twenty translations at the same time.  We obviously know exactly who the two goats represent in Leviticus 16, what the Sea of Glass in the book of Revelation is, and when the four horsemen will be riding – so again, we must have love – right?

“Of course,”  we adamantly declare as we rattle off all of those Greek words that translate to Biblical versions of love.  But love in the real world in actions and with our whole heart beyond sermons, metaphor and mental exercise?  Oooh…that’s rather smarmy isn’t it?  Sort of mushy, gushy.  Real men don’t do looovvve. Real Christians have more important things to think about than “love.”  Heavier subjects. The ones you can sink your teeth into like prophecy, law and the jots and tittles of scripture.  Love is well…a bit lightweight really.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it’s a good thing – a great, essential and important quest – to observe the tenets of the Bible. Excellent to be studying and searching out the truths of the Word for the Bible is a deep book with endless subjects for research.  But we can be just like the Pharisees who observed the letter of the law, but missed the spirit of it, when we think that is all love means. We may have knowledge, but we are missing the connection to our heart and may even be squelching part of God’s spirit within us.

Actively living God’s way of love involves more than study

Actively living God’s way of love is not just studying at a desk or at the feet of pastors and church leaders. It is not just an intellectual understanding we are sure we have about how to love God. The Bible itself says, that if we don’t love our human neighbor whom we can see, how can we love God whom we can’t? (1 John 4:20)

Sadly, I don’t think many of us really comprehend what loving our neighbor or our brothers and sisters in Christ means.  Remember the story of the Good Samaritan?  Yes, that one – where Jesus is asked, “Who is my neighbor?”  And he responds with a story of a man left for dead after being robbed. Both the priest and the Levite pass him by with excuses. It is a gentile, someone outside his faith and in fact practically his enemy, who helps him – actively helps him, picking him off the road and taking him to a physical place where he can heal, even paying the costs. (Luke 10:25-37).

How often are we the priest or the Levite in this story?  We know it all. We are so spiritual – definite servants of God – BUT we can turn a blind eye to the single mother or the individual that sits alone at church.  We wave to the elderly and the pregnant mother, but don’t stop to consider they may not have family nearby and may need extra help.  We even judge those in abusive or harsh situations – or ignore them because we don’t want to know.

There are those living alone who could use a phone call, a note, an invite for a cup of coffee or a chat.   Sending cards and praying for others is important, but outright acts of love and service to those who are sick, in prison, in need, suffering from or healing from abuse or emotionally destitute are equally so.  As are efforts to get to know our brothers and sisters beyond just a nod at church in acquaintanceship.  We are, afterall, supposed to be family as Christians.

Look at the example of Tabitha who was “full of good works and charitable deeds” (Acts 9:36).  See Romans 12:10-13: “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.” Note the giving of donations by the brethren in Macedonia to brethren even more in need (Rom 15:26),  And the direction to do good to all men, especially of the household of faith, as we have opportunity.  (Gal 6:10).

Many of us are missing love. We don’t get it.  And God says, we cannot love Him if we don’t love our brother, nor do any other works truly profit us spiritually if we don’t have love – no matter how much of the Bible we think we intellectually know or how much we study.

John 13:35: “By this will all know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

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