I Say Nothing without Love. (my words have an emptiness)
I Am Nothing without Love. (my gifts have an emptiness)
I Am Profited Nothing without Love. (my good deeds have an emptiness)
(A reflection on 1 Cor. 13:1-3 and Romans 12:1-2)
I Say Nothing
1 Cor. 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
All human attempts at love fall far short of the love of God that we have available through the Holy Spirit. All sins, bad habits, shortcomings, etc. are self centered and thus incapable at bringing us the kind and depth of love that God wants for us and to come from us or through us.
Without love our reputation otherwise is worthless. Without godly love, our wealth of any kind is empty and barren. Without true compassion, our words do not give the life that God desires to come from us, and thus we have really said nothing at all or of any eternal value. (1 Cor. 13:1-3)
Paul implies in 1 Cor. 13:1 that without love we say nothing, but rather are like noisy gongs , a meaningless sound, and a clanging symbol. These are sounds that jar, that have no melody and no harmony. Gongs were rung to call pagans to their worship. An addiction will pull at us to speak the words that will bring us what we think we need. We may need attention and honor and praise. We may need physical things to fulfill our addictions. When we speak from the primary motivation to receive to our blessing, we are not speaking true compassion; we are not allowing God’s Love from above, pure and holy, to flow through us to bless others. This may seem harsh, but it is the kind of loving truth that will help us rise from our bondages to become the men and women of God that bring life to others. It is good to remember that in order to bring life to others, our words must come from God and flow through us, so we also receive the blessings. We are touched and filled as we touch others.
This is not to say that we cannot be ourselves and speak the imperfect truths of our hearts, but only that we seek to keep in mind Paul’s admonitions of allowing compassion to flow through us, to be patient, kind, hoping for God’s best, enduring each other in love, not thinking of ourselves ONLY but thinking of the good of others as well.
We are the temple (the sacred place of worship) for the presence of the Living God to dwell in and to move through. (1 Cor. 3:16-17/1 Cor. 6:19-20/Rom. 12:1-2).
I Am Nothing,
1 Cor. 13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
In 1 Cor. 13:2 Paul implies that if we are gifted, brilliant, knowledgeable and spiritually powerful so that other’s might think of us as great, we are nothing if we do not possess and give godly love. It is all considered as empty, producing nothing in eternal value.
There are all kinds of addictions. We do not have to be destitute and poor to be bound by addictions. The wealthy can be bound by their wealth, the powerful speakers bound by their reputations, the one of higher intellect bound by their thirst of knowledge, the one tuned into the spiritual addicted to performance and so forth. The motivation for our works can be more important in the spiritual realm than the works themselves, even though other’s may benefit from them.
The speaker, the singer, the teacher, etc. may speak truths that other’s benefit from, but his or her motivations can be impure. Perhaps they are of the purpose to bring honor, fame, or wealth. These addictions can be bound in poor self esteem or pride or fears.
Thus, in God’s economy the poor, the meek ones, the merciful, the peace makers, the truth seekers, the one’s who thirst not for wealth or reputation or power but more of God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit, they are the ones who are rich in real life, when godly compassions are amongst their highest values.
What we do with what we have, whether in possessions, gifts or talents, is more important to God than what we have. When we use what we are (gifts, talents, social status, etc.) as tools to do the works of God in His Love for all, to help draw them near to God, then we are pleasing to God and a blessing to our neighbors. As we seek to do this, we are slowly healed in the process.
I am Profited Nothing.
1 Cor. 13:3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
In 1 Cor. 13:3, Paul says a most amazing thing. He implies that good actions, appearing to be humble and godly acts, when they are not produced from the motivation of God’s Love, will profit us Nothing. We can do the most amazing spiritual feats of self sacrifice and have them produce nothing within our own souls when we do not do them motivated by the Holy Spirit and God’s great Love for others. We cannot suppose that godliness is a means for gain (1 Tim. 6:5) or that we can be double minded supposing that we can benefit ourselves while benefitting God. God will benefit us in His wisdom as we do His Will in His Way. It is just as easy to become addicted to appearances of humility, or false godliness, or false holiness or religiosity as it is to become addicted to many other things.
Colossians 2:16-23 has a fair amount of warning about false humility. Paul speaks of subjecting ourselves to regulations according to the commandments and doctrines of men, saying that these things have an appearance of wisdom, but are really self imposed religion and false humility.
We must desire to do God’s Will above our own will with every fiber of our being. God’s Will is solidly grounded in His Love for all humanity. The real profit is found in living and resting in close communion with the Lord, learning to be with the Lord, instead of doing for God. Rom. 8:26-27
The problem with addictions, shortcomings, faults, lack of holiness, etc. and all forms of sin is that they are self centered and not God centered. Thus, when we think of finding healing we think of what we can do or have done to self that will bring healing. There is a place for self reflection, but it must not stop there. What I am suggesting here, is that the path for the greatest healing for all our shortcomings is not more centering upon self (although there is a necessary time and place for that), but rather the greatest healing will come through seeking God to be conduits for His Will empowered by His Love for others. It is IN THE PROCESS of seeking to be the person God has called us to be that God will empower us to change. God throws no stones at the sinner who desires to change and a bruised reed He will not break. (Isa. 42:1-3) The Lord will not ask us to do more than we are able. But God does often request that we reach higher.
Isaiah 61:1-2 1 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
Rom 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
Rom 13:9 For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Rom 13:10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Gal 5:14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Jas 2:8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well.
Jas 2:9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.