Childhood music lessons are something that many of us have experienced/endured...take your pick. For me, it was guitar, starting at about third grade. For my sister, it was trumpet in elementary school and, later, piano. Guitar and piano aren't too difficult to tolerate in the early stages of learning...trumpet, on the other hand...well. Sorry Angie :-) At least the trumpet phase didn't last very long as I remember. Can you imagine the budding percussionist practicing? Ear plugs, please!
There is something annoying about a screeching violin, buzzing trumpet or crashing cymbal. It grates against the auditory nerves. It sends us running from the room with hands on our ears. It is unpleasant and we want to escape it if we can. This means no disrespect to the young musician in their formative years, but it is what it is.
Those clanging, screeching, squeaking instruments, as annoying as they are, have a message for us in our fulfillment of purpose. They teach us a very important lesson as we seek to engage our gifting in the purposed living we pursue. You see, it is important that we understand how our gifting informs, supports and empowers our purposed living. Whether you have the gift of teaching, shepherding, or administration, for example, that gifting will be an integral part of the purpose you have for your life. We have talents of all kinds to enable us in the work we do, but as a follower of Christ, you have spiritual gifting that is endowed by the Holy Spirit who indwells you. He empowers you to make a difference. However, there is another aspect of our gifting that trumps all else.
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. 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. 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.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
As we read in this passage, that aspect of our gifting that overrules all others is LOVE. Yes, love. Without it, we are like those annoying, clanging, squeaking instruments. So, it is not enough just to be gifted. We must exercise our gifts in the context of love.
Miraculous Communication without Love
No matter what your perspective on the gift of tongues, one thing is central...it was intended as a sign to unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:20-25). We can see then, that the use of this gift outside the context of love, makes it like the babbling of pagan worshipers much like the indiscriminate sound of a gong or cymbal. There is even the connection that could be made of the use of gongs, cymbals and trumpets in pagan ritual. Therefore, if we exercise a miraculous gift of communication without the motive of love, we are just a noise to those who hear us. No benefit will come of it.
Prophecy, Knowledge and Faith without Love
Prophecy is a gifting of both foretelling and forth telling. The prophets, for example, wrote the Holy Spirit inspired prophecies of things to come. But, every time a person declares the Word of God...any time the Gospel is preached...they are engaging in prophesying. Related to this, is the gift of knowledge...to understand the mysteries of God. Finally, the gift of faith...a faith that comes out of one's preaching and knowledge...opens the door for God to move and work in miraculous ways, is highlighted. As we declare the truth of God's Word and the good news of salvation...as we plumb the depths of the deep mysteries of God...as we exercise a miraculous faith that moves mountains...if we do so without the saturation of love, we are nothing. We have nothing for which to be recognized. We have nothing to show for our efforts.
Extreme Generosity and Self-Sacrifice without Love
The apostle Paul reaches the height of religious expression as he brings this paragraph to a close. Neither would volunteering to give all of your possessions to feed the poor, or offering your body to be burned, produce any spiritual benefit if not done out of love for those who are being served. Such efforts would be fruitless and empty. It wouldn't purchase acceptance with God and it would result in little impact for eternal benefit to others...all because of the lack of the motivating factor of love.
Is love really that important? Does it really make that much of a difference? The answer...yes. When you listen to the words of God, you find very quickly that love drives everything He has done.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
1 John 4:7-12
Love drives the plan of God to redeem His creation. Therefore, love is to drive all that we do as we fulfill our purpose in the master plan of God. How will you love through the purpose to which you've been called? We must ask ourselves what drives our passion and life? If it is anything less than love, we will find that our lives have become noisy clanging that accomplishes nothing.
How has God's love impacted your life? How do you want to make a difference through living your purpose in love? What challenges you to love well? Comment and share!
With over forty years of ministry experience, Randy Kinnick continues to live a life of pursuing the purpose for which he was created. Whether teaching God's Word to adults, coaching youth and young adults in finding their purpose, or caring for the hurting and abused in Southeast Asia, the adventure has taken him around the world in ways he could have never dreamed. The adventure continues!