Love Multiplies Value
One of the surprising lessons in mathematics is that the numeral 0 (zero) is more powerful than we might think. If we add zero to a number, the number does not change; similarly if we subtract it. But if we multiply any number by zero, however great that number is, it is immediately reduced to zero (so, 100 x 0 = 0). It is the same with love. Love multiplies the benefit or effect of even the smallest action. But what happens if there is no love? The lovelessness reduces even the grandest action to being of no value to God.
Some in the church at Corinth delighted in the spiritual gifts God had given, not to serve or glorify Him but to boost their own egos and draw admiration of others to themselves. They were not using the gifts in love, because love is always selfless – seeking to give itself freely for the good of another person. Alas, lovelessness is seen in some of the most spiritually gifted believers; even in those who are the most generous, sacrificial and prayerful.
Pride is the natural companion of lovelessness. It seeks to advantage the person it inhabits, and hijacks what God has given to build up the Body of Christ. It does not wholeheartedly love other believers, the church or even God. And yet when loveless pride has achieved its greatest success in promoting its owner, the individual has gained nothing of value: no expression of God's pleasure, no blessing and no reward (Proverbs 16:5).
These are sobering verses indeed. They strike to the heart of our 'old nature' (Romans 7:5). Although we are glad to belong to Christ with sins forgiven and the certainty of heaven, we also like the prominence, admiration and honour of other people. Jesus said to the hypocritical Pharisees, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets." (Luke 6:26) It is not wrong for others to appreciate our contribution to the Body of Christ, but the praise can become a spiritual trap – so that we do the right things for the wrong reason and end up with nothing. Serious soul-searching and repentance is needed until humble love brings blessing to others, glory to God and His eternal commendation (James 4:7-10).
© Dr Paul Adams