In continuing the series on Love, I wanted to systematically go through the first few verses and talk about what “love” often looks like from Christians today, and how there is a massive deficiency of love. Like a root without water in the midst of the desert, alone, trying to survive on it’s own strength, so too we find love today. Paul, as I wrote yesterday, made a very strong case, explaining that doing one of the most important things in the church without love could be considered the same as nothing.
Paul then begins in the second verse with prophecy and prophetic powers. We see “prophecy,” or better translated as “preaching” here, under scrutiny. Even the most gifted man or woman of God is not exempt in ministering in love. All we have to do is consider Balaam in the book of Numbers. Here was a prophet of God who knew the truth; and though he knew the truth of God’s word, he had absolutely no love for the people of God.
When he was asked to curse God’s people, did he hesitate? Absolutely not, but did so with money as the contributing factor by Balak, king of Moab. Rather than writing the entire passage out, I ask that you look it up in your bible with me. In Numbers 22.16-34, we see that God who does not control us like robots, chose instead to send an angel to control Balaam’s donkey. Several other times we can read in Numbers that Balaam would have continued to curse God’s people Israel were it not for God preventing him to do so.
Ultimately, Balaam led the people of Israel into idolatry and was put to death for this in Numbers 31.8,16. Here, in Numbers 22, we see that the prophet knew God’s word, spoke God’s word and feared God in a self-protecting way. But, he had no love for God and no love for God’s people. With all of these things that we will read about in Chapter 13, specific characteristics of God’s love in agape, they are not adjectives. And if you remember, an adjective describes a noun; these are not adjectives but verbs.
Love is an action, which we will see in next blogs over and over again. But here, we see that the motive behind what we do is important. If we have self-interest, praise, promotion, or advantage of any sort, our influence for the Lord will be undercut to that extent. No matter how relevant our words are to our friend, particularly no matter how true the gospel is we are presenting, if it isn’t done in love, it will fall on deaf ears. That’s why there’s very little fruit to the street evangelism today. We must lead with our hearts before we lead with our hands.
In stark contrast to Balaam, we see Jeremiah who was the weeping prophet. But he didn’t weep because of his own problems, but because of the wickedness of God’s people. He wept over them just like Jesus did in Luke 19.41-44. Look at the heart of Jeremiah in 8.18, “my joy is gone; grief is upon me, my heart is sick within me.”
Or Jeremiah 8.21, “For the wound of the daughter of my people is my heart wounded; I mourn, and dismay has taken hold on me.”
Or Jeremiah 9.1, “Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!”
Jeremiah was a prophet with a loving heart, an aching heart, a spiritual heart and Paul was exactly the same way. Acts 20.18b-19, “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews.”
Romans 9.1-3 says much the same thing, “I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”
Paul ministered with incredible power much because he had incredible love. MacArthur adds, “To proclaim the truth of God without love is not simply less than you should be, it is to be nothing.”
As we continue studying these things, we have to have the courage to ask ourselves, “am I acting, behaving, and even doing things for the glory of God without love?” Do I speak to my loved ones with love? You see, it is not optional for Christians, it is mandatory as we understand who Christ is and what He alone has done for us. Everything, even the most “important” things we do for the Lord, must be done from the place of love. If we don’t, it is considered as nothing. How important than is it that we love? Oh let us love!