“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not 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 have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
1 Corinthians 13 begins a beautiful exposition of one of the most powerful weapons at our disposal in our Christian witness and an essential ingredient in our relationship with our Lord. Indeed, trying to wield the Word of God without love is like trying to swing a sword without any hands. Love is the motivating power behind our witness and testimony; it is the crux of our relationship with God; it must be the source of every good and pleasing deed that serves our neighbors and glorifies our God in heaven.
How and why this can be ought to be no great mystery. Scripture reveals it to us plainly: “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Everything that we are to be and everything that God asks us to do is rooted in love: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’…’Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).
So we see that the whole of God’s will is grounded in the force of love, and we cannot possibly please Him if we do not have love for Him and for others. 1 John goes on to explain how God’s love is the source and origin of every good and pleasing thing that comes from us: “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” (4:9-11).
The weapon of love is so powerful that we could not possibly wield it through our own power. It is a force beyond anything we are capable of. Any real love that we can muster for God or for our neighbors is merely a reflection of God’s love for us, and even this “ricochet” love is powerful enough to defeat the darkness of the world in which we live.
Like the Word of God, love is versatile and reliable – a trustworthy primary weapon that ought to be standard issue for any soldier of Christ. We can use it defensively to protect ourselves from the fear and doubt with which Satan daily assails us: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). We can use it to penetrate the armor of hard hearts and impenitence: “’If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:20-21). Finally, love has the power to scatter the darkness of sin as God’s love gives us the power to forgive our neighbors and live at peace with them: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
Like the Sword of the Spirit – the Word of God – Jesus’ love is a weapon without which we dare not set foot upon the battlefield. It is only through His love that we find the strength to reach out to our enemies with the Gospel of healing and salvation. It is only by the power of God’s love that we are enabled to serve God and minister to the needs of others. And we mustn’t doubt the effectiveness of this incredible weapon, as Scripture assures us: “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8).
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank and praise You for Your great love which You have shown to me through Your Son, Jesus Christ. By Your Spirit, enable me to share this great love with those around me through service and witness to them, that You may be glorified in everything I do. Amen.