If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
This chapter of the Bible never fails to bother me. I am not a warm, fuzzy, hugging person. I like distance and, many many times I do things because they are expected and something I think the other wants or deserves. I do not, necessarily, want to do them. A lot of what I do is done because I believe it must be done and there is no one else to do it. The weariness with which I do it ruins the effort as I grumble through. Others get the message that this is a burden for me and not something I really want to do. The exhaustion shouts, “When will this be over?” I really wish I could be energized by activities of giving, but frankly, they just wear me out. Am I sowing nothing because it does not come wholeheartedly? Would doing something out of a sense of obligation have been better left undone? I guess I don’t think so because I keep doing what I feel obligated to do.
I wonder if love has to be felt. If one does loving things without feeling loving, does that not count? It seems to me that loving action in the absence of loving feelings is superior. Luke says if we love those who love us, we are no better than unbelievers. It is when we love those who would be our enemies that we are loving as He called us to love. I have to read between the lines here to get the idea that there is no feeling for the enemies, but maybe some of you really do feel love for your enemies. Romans 13:10 says, “Love worketh no ill to its neighbor.” In Dan Allender’s book Bold Love he says loving is doing what is best for your neighbor, doing what will bring them to their best self. Hmmmm. As a nurse, sometimes I have to make people feel worse before they can become better…loving may not always be pleasant, but it should always be for their good.
16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
“Sacrifices” is the operational word here. Good deeds (loving actions) are sacrifices. They entail putting yourself aside for another. Putting self on the shelf is not a comfortable thing nor is it our first inclination. Sacrifice entails renunciation of our immediate pleasure, but Jesus assures us that if we die to ourselves daily and pick up our cross and follow Him, we’ll have the fullest life possible (John !0:10). My mind is spinning. It’s time for a word from Ann Voskamp on love: