“Without It, You’re Nothing and You Gain Nothing”

1 John 4

7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

1 Corinthians 13

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 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, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Without it we are more than poor, we don’t even have a little – we have nothing. More dangerous is how much we can achieve without it: dynamic speaking and preaching, insight, dramatic faith, self-sacrificing and martyrdom. These together can all add up to zero, nothing, zilch, without the true love of God being the motive, the force and the goal.

We all to be something. We don’t dream about being nothing.

God’s love is all that matters and everything else is nothing.

What love is like: C.S. Lewis said that “utmost evil” is bragging. Love does not boast. In Greek “boast” means being a windbag. Jealousy puts others down; boasting pushes us up. Love does not behave badly (rude). Think before you speak, be tactful. The new minister’s family was presented with a pie baked by a well-meaning lady who, frankly, couldn’t cook. The pie was just inedible and so, reluctantly, the pastor’s wife tossed the pie in the garbage. The preacher was then faced with the dilemma of thanking the baker—while at the same time remaining truthful. Finally, after much thought, he sent a note with this tactful response: “Thank you for being so kind and thoughtful. I can assure you that a pie like yours never lasts long around our house!”
Love is not “easily offended.” Not bad tempered. (like prodigal elder brother refusing to go in).

How I do I love?

It’s healthy if by now you cry out to God and plead “how?”

  • The starting point is being a child of God, being born of Him. In 1Jn 4:7 &8 we discover that it is impossible to love without Him and when He gives us birth we inherit His DNA, His seed (1Jn 3:9) puts His nature into us. Obey His nature, His instinct and not yours.
  • Marvel at His love (1Jn 3:1) “behold, what manner of love”. Edward Irving went to see a dying boy once, and when he entered the room he just put his hand on the sufferer’s head and said, “My boy, God loves you,” and went away, and the boy started from his bed, and called out to the people in the house, “God loves me! God loves me!” It changed the boy. The sense that God loved him overpowered him, melted him down, and began the creating of a new heart in him. His love is not free, He paid the highest price. Free for the receiver but costly for the giver. Let this drive you to your knees in adoration and repentance. By learning about His love (1Jn 4:19), for “He first loved us”, we learn to love.
  • Continue to Grow in His love. See Eph 3:14-19 how, with “His Spirit in our inner being…we, being rooted and established in love… filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
  • Obey His command to love: Thus, John says (1Jn 2:15) “love not the world” and “this is the message…love one another”(3:11) and Matt 22:37 commands us (as in Deut 10:12). It is something we do and not not wait to happen. It’s not a sudden feeling that arrives. The world likes to say “I fell in love” and when there is divorce “I love someone else.” Put it into action. “A bell is not a bell until you ring it and love is not love until it gives itself away.” (Oscar Hammerstein)
  • Let love be your motive. In gifts, serving and sacrificing it must be rooted in the love of God. “Whether you eat or whether you drink, do it to the glory of God.” Let Christ be your target, your focus, even if it is as fanatical as a sportsman’s lifestyle. Do it with all your “heart, mind, soul and strength.”
  • Be cleansed and purified. 1Jn 3:3, “he who has this hope purifies himself.” Let all obstacles to His Spirit be removed. Do a checklist or questionaire: a) what do you get emotional about? (for that will show where your love is) b) where are your habitual thoughts? (your dreams and daydreams will expose your heart.) c) your speech (what your heart is full of your mouth speaks) d) who do you fear or seek approval from (to expose why you do certain things) e) what am I not prepared to give up for Christ? (revealing the “more than” things)

Bro Fano Sibisi shared this just before this message: “A thought I had today was what a pity that there is still too much of ourselves. Wherever we go our ‘perfume’ fills the air. O that God’s perfume, His love, would follow us everywhere.”

If you’ve lost your “first-love” remember “the height from which you have fallen”, repent and “do the things you did in the beginning”, rededicate, confess and make restitution.