In 1 Corinthians chapter 13, Paul starts out by saying, “I want you to understand that all that really matters in life is giving away love.” It’s kindness, giving away love to God, giving away love to others. Paul is a great teacher and great teachers know if you really want to get something across to someone you use repetition. So Paul says the same thing over and over again. He just says it in different ways. He says the same point five times; that nothing else matters but love, giving love away.
First he says that unless I live a life of kindness nothing I say will make a difference. In verse 1, he says, “If I could speak in any language in Heaven or on earth but didn’t love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or clanging cymbal.” God says words without love are just noise. Words without love are empty. They are meaningless. Now, we love great communicators. We get excited about great speeches. We get excited about great messages, but God says that doesn’t really impress Him very much. God says if you don’t have love in your life that your words are totally ineffective. All that you say doesn’t matter. It makes no difference if you don’t live a life of love.
And then secondly, Paul says if I don’t live a life of kindness, nothing I know makes a difference. Verse 2 reads, “I may have the gift of prophecy. I may understand all the secret things of God and have all knowledge. But if I do not have love, then I am nothing.” You may be brilliant. You may have incredible knowledge in math, in science, in history, in literature, in philosophy, but if you don’t live a life of love, it doesn’t matter. You’re a zero in God’s eyes. You can be a walking Bible encyclopedia, but if you don’t live a life of kindness giving away love, you’re nothing. All that you know is meaningless without love. We live in a world of a knowledge explosion today. This generation is smarter than any generation that’s gone before. The technological advances, the scientific advances of the last decade are astounding. But, have you noticed that we still have the same old problems, and they seem to be getting worse. Terrorism. Crime. Abuse. Prejudice. Violence. Why? Because what the world needs is not more knowledge. What the world needs is love. Love in action in our communities, in our nation, and in our world. That’s what the world needs more of.
Then Paul goes on to say that if I don’t live a life of kindness, nothing I believe makes a difference. There is a myth that being a Christian is just all about believing some certain truths and certain doctrines. Nothing could be further from the truth. Following Christ is more than just believing intellectual facts and doctrinal truths. It’s all about love. It’s a love relationship with Christ. That’s what it’s all about. It’s not just a matter of believing. Look at this next verse. “Even if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, I would still be worth nothing at all without love.” It takes more than belief to please God. You say, “Wait a minute though, Kerry, I believe in Jesus.” So what? The Bible says even the devil believes there is a God, but he’s not going to be in Heaven. Why? The issue is not, “Do you believe in Christ?” The issue is, “Do you love Him?” Do you love Jesus Christ with all your heart? Christianity is all about love. It’s a love relationship with Jesus Christ that comes through you in loving others. That’s what it’s all about.
The fourth thing he says is if I don’t live a life of kindness, nothing I give makes a difference. In verse 3, he says, “If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, but if I didn’t love others, I would be of no value whatsoever.” Now, can you be in a relationship and give for selfish motives? Absolutely. Yeah. Giving involves loving most of the time but not always. Some people give in order to get back. They say, “Well, I’ll give this to you if you’ll give back to me.” Some people give with ulterior motives. They want to give to someone, maybe in a marriage relationship, so that they get back. They give in a work relationship so that they get back. That’s not love, that’s just selfishness. Sometimes people give to try to control other people. Sometimes people give for prestige. They want to get their name on a plaque. There are all kinds of wrong motives to give, but God says if you don’t give because of love, then your giving doesn’t count.
The fifth thing he says is if I don’t live a life of kindness, then nothing I accomplish makes a difference. Nothing I accomplish makes a difference. In verse 3 it says, “So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” Notice that word ‘bankrupt.’ That’s what life is without love. It’s zero. You can rack up an incredible list of personal accomplishments. You can get all the achievements in the world. You can get all the trophies on your trophy case. You can build up your bank account. You can get your picture on Fortune or Time Magazine. You can win the Nobel Peace Prize. You can build a billion dollar business, but if you don’t have love in your life, it doesn’t mean a thing. At the end of your life, God is going to evaluate your life. He’s not going to evaluate your life on how big your bank account is. He’s not going to look at your sports trophies. He’s not going to look at your list of personal accomplishments. He’s going to look at one thing and one thing only – your relationships. He’s going to ask, “Do you love Me with all of your heart, and do you love others?” That’s it. That’s it. We are talking about the great commandment. Now tell me, what else matters? Nothing.