- Love and Liberty
Faith Which Worketh by Love
God gives spiritual capacities to his people, not for bragging rights, but for the good of others. The problem at Corinth was that the people in the church had fallen in love with their gifts and areas of service and they were missing the point of having gifts and abilities to begin with. We may not struggle in the exact same areas as they did, but we do find many who have fallen in love with their talents or positions in the church. Obedience to the Lord is not their concern, recognition for their talents is their priority. Edifying others is not their goal. There are many people standing behind pulpits, meeting with youth groups, singing on platforms, and holding other positions in the church who are servants of self instead of servants of God. The way we can honor God and help others is to be motivated by Christian charity – a benevolent love.
Why is love so important in the church?
Love is not a feeling. Love in the Bible is a matter of the will. It is to seek the highest well-being of another. It does not always line up with our affections, which is why the Lord commands us to love even our enemies. Since love is commanded, it cannot be based on the emotions or feelings. When the Bible commands us to love, we are being called upon to obey God and to seek the welfare of others. This is the essence of the Christian life. There is the possibility of being gifted, or having a position in the church, while being a person that does not love as the Bible commands. As for the Corinthians, some had the ability to speak different languages. Paul makes the point that even if someone could speak in other languages, even a special angelic language, it would mean nothing. That is not the test of whether a person is a Christian.
Some were given the ability to prophesy. Both Balaam and Caiaphas were enabled to prophecy, but their hearts were not right with God, therefore their ability did not help them or anyone else. In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord spoke of those who on the Day of Judgment will plead: “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?” They will hear the Lord say: “I never knew you.” Why? Because they are workers of iniquity, not followers of Christ. Love is a fruit of the Spirit, an indication of the new birth, the ability to prophesy is not.
Some were able to understand God’s mysteries concerning the church and they were able to reveal the meaning of the Old Testament Scriptures. Still Paul says that without charity, it means nothing.
Though one has faith that can move mountains, still, the greatest miracle is to see a sinful, selfish person repent so that he loves the Lord and does good to those around him.
A person could dole out his goods to others and yet not have Christian love.
Perhaps the greatest sacrifice for any cause is for a man to become a martyr. Imagine being burned at the stake for what you believe in. Thousands of people have committed themselves to death in defense of a cause. What has their sacrifice gained them?
Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:10)
For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. (Galatians 5:6)