Then suddenly along comes an event like a death in a family, or a friend. We start focusing a little bit more on the things that matter most in life. Jesus told a story about this. In the Gospel of Luke chapter 12, Jesus says, “There was a rich man whose lands produced bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What should I do for I don’t have enough space to store my goods?’ Then he says, ‘Here’s what I’ll do. I’ll tear down my barns and I’ll build larger ones. Then I’ll say to myself, “I have so many good things stored up for me. Now rest, eat, drink and be merry.”’
But God said to him, ‘You fool. This night your life will be demanded of you and then to whom will all your things belong?’ Thus will it be for anyone who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”
This guy only thought of himself. It didn’t occur to him that maybe God had blessed him so he could share with the less fortunate. No, all he thought was “I’ll build a bigger barn. I won’t bless anybody else. I’ll just keep amassing.” And God says, “You’re missing what matters most in life.”
So what does matter most to God? The Bible tells us in Galatians 5:6, “If you are a follower of Christ Jesus all that matters is your faith that makes you love others.” God is saying what’s important in life is not your accomplishments or your popularity or your wealth, but your faith that makes you love other people.
The famous chapter in the Bible on love is 1 Corinthians 13. Here, God says the same thing five different ways. He wants you to understand the most important thing in life is love. Your relationships matter the most. Five things this passage of Scripture teach us …
1. If I don’t live a life of love, nothing I say will matter. Verse 1 says, “If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth, but I didn’t love others I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging symbol.” The Bible says words without love are empty. It doesn’t matter how good a communicator you are. Living a life without love means, nothing I say will matter.
2. If I don’t live a life with love, nothing I know will matter. Verse 2 says, “I may have the gift of prophecy. I may understand all the secret things of God. I may have all knowledge. But if I do not have love, then I am nothing.” You may be a genius, know the Bible, or you may be a brilliant scholar! But God says if you don’t have love in your life, all that you know is worthless. Brilliance without love equals zero.
With the knowledge explosion in today’s world, we are much smarter than any other generation before us. But globally, we still have the same old problems – crime, abuse, prejudice, hatred, and violence. We have our own peculiar problems in Rarotonga. Why? Because what the world needs is not more knowledge; it needs more love. Without love, nothing I say will matter, and without love, nothing I know will matter.
3. If I don’t live a life with love, nothing I believe will matter. There’s a myth that being a Christian, is just a matter of believing certain Bible truths. Following Christ is much more than believing intellectual facts or doctrinal truths. It’s a life of love.
The Bible says, “Even if I have the gift of faith so I could speak to a mountain and make it move, I will still be worth nothing at all without love.” It takes more than belief to please God. You say, “I believe in Jesus!” So what? The devil believes that Jesus is the Son of God. But you won’t find him in heaven because it takes more than believing in Christ to make it to heaven. The real issue is whether you love Him. The Bible says, “If I say I love God and hate other people, I’m a liar.”
The Bible also says “I can’t say that I’m right with God and be out of sorts with other people.” Relationships with others affect my relationship with God. If I don’t live a life of love, nothing I believe will matter.” That is profound.
4. If I don’t live a life of love, nothing I give will matter. Our reading says: “If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body but I didn’t love others, I would be of no value whatsoever.” Giving is not necessarily always loving. Some people give just in order to get back. That’s not love. That’s selfishness. Some people give out of guilt, to try to ease a guilty conscience for something they did in the past. Some people give to control other people. Parents do this all the time in the way they give to their kids in order to try to control them. Some people give for prestige, for honour. You can give for a lot of wrong motives, and the Bible says if I’m not doing this in love, none of my giving counts.
5. If I don’t live a life of love, nothing I accomplish will matter. In “The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language”, a paraphrase of First Corinthians13:3 says: “No matter what I say or what I believe or what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”
You can build up an incredible list of personal achievements. You can get your picture on the front page of the newspaper. You can have incredibly great successes in your field of endeavour, but if you don’t love it’s worthless. The Bible says - relationships are more important than accomplishments, and life is about relationships. And the only thing that matters to God is do I love Him and do I love other people. All the other stuff is not worth 10 cents.
How well did you love?
Pastor Tevai Matapo,