If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:1-7
A few days ago in my morning reading time, I read the above verses in 1 Corinthians 13. I was struck once again (like every other time I read this passage), by the words in verse two which basically reads . . . “without love, I am nothing” and in verse three, “without love, I gain nothing.” The penman Paul was speaking to the church in Corinth who were lacking love in their use of spiritual gifts within the church. This reminded me that often we have good intentions with one another but if we don’t seek to act in love towards one another, our actions are basically worthless. This is because without love, our actions usually have little to no effect and can even be damaging. Love is key ingredient that makes our actions and gifts useful.
Thinking on this brought to my mind a memory from my childhood. There was this place my grandparents would occasionally take us to eat. It was a buffet type dining experience. We were able to pick any kind of food we wanted and also eat as much as we wanted, this was a kids dream. As a bonus, ( if we had behaved while dining) my grandparents would give each of us kids a quarter to use in the old fashion “love testing” machine that sat in the foyer of the establishment.
The “love tester” was an arcade style type game where after inserting a quarter, you would squeeze a handle on the machine that would invariably move up and down a succession of light bulbs. Eventually the movement of the light would stop illuminating one of the bulbs and therefore telling you the degree of love which you had. This would vary from the highest degree of “red-hot, uncontrollable,” down to the lowest degree of “clammy fish, try again.” Us kids would always get tons of laughs from playing this silly game.
I think it’s funny that when I was thinking about loving God and loving others, this silly memory and machine came to my mind. I think it’s because love really IS measurable. Our love can be seen by our actions towards others and our love for God can be measured by how well we love others. Romans 13:8 puts it this way . . . Owe nothing to anyone–except for your obligation to love one another. If you love our neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. We show love for God by loving others as he does.
As believers in Christ, we are to be defined by our love. I believe one way we can grow in our love for God and others is by daily putting ourselves to the “love test” of 1 Corinthians 13 and letting it be a reminder of how we are to act towards one another. John 13:34-35 says . . . “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
We are all sinners saved by God’s amazing grace and will never attain to a standard of perfection here in this lifetime. As we continually seek to walk in God’s love towards others we will also increase our grace toward others because of these immeasurable grace God has given us. As we seek Christ to test our heart and motives, we should see a growing awareness of Christ’s power and presence in our lives. And as we follow God and seek to be led by the Spirit, we should daily ask that he increase our love. May Psalm 139:24 be the prayer of our hearts today: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.