“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1 NIV).
Without love, all that you know is incomplete. “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge . . . but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2 NIV). The world is exploding with information and knowledge. Yet many of our most basic problems are not being solved, because the world is not looking for more knowledge. The world is looking for love.
Without love, all that you believe is insufficient. “If I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2 NIV). Many people have the misconception that being a Christian is just about believing certain truths and doctrines. But do you love Jesus? Do you realize he loves you? Christianity is about experiencing the love Jesus has for you and learning how to love like him.
Without love, all that you give is insignificant. “If I give all I possess to the poor . . . but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3 NIV). There are all kinds of motivations for giving, including obligation or prestige or guilt. Just because you give doesn’t mean you’re doing it in love. You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.
Without love, all that you accomplish is inadequate. “If I were burned alive for preaching the Gospel but didn’t love others, it would be of no value whatever” (1 Corinthians 13:3 TLB). You can have all kinds of great accomplishments. You can even sacrifice your life for the greatest cause in the world—the Kingdom of God—but without love, it’s wasted effort.
You can have the eloquence of an orator, the knowledge of a genius, the faith of a miracle worker, the generosity of a philanthropist, and the dedication of a martyr. But if you don’t love, it doesn’t count.
The good news is that you can love others because God first loved you. Jesus says that as you live within his love, he will help you to love others. When you draw closer to him, your ability to love will increase—he makes it possible for you to live out the calling to love others.