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Summary: What is the real meaning of love?

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What Is Love?

1. Produce by Faith (v2)

And if I have the gift I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

„à Now Paul goes on his third point about faith. Even if the person¡¦s faith has the power so as to remove mountains (referring to trusting God to do mighty things in behalf of His children). Paul say¡¦s a Christian is nothing if he does not have love.

Matthew 17:20 He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ’Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." The Lord¡¦s point to His disciples was that, by trusting Him completely, nothing in their ministry would be impossible.

„à Illustration of Jonah - Jonah had great faith. It was because of his great belief in the effectiveness of God¡¦s Word that he resisted preaching to Nineveh He was not afraid of failure but of success. He had great faith in the power of God¡¦s Word. His problem was that he did not want the wicked Ninevites to be saved. He had no love for them, not even after they repented. He did not want them saved and was resentful of the Lord¡¦s saving them. As the direct result of the prophet¡¦s preaching, everyone in the city from the king down repented. Even the animals were covered with sackcloth as a symbol of repentance. God miraculously spared Nineveh, just as Jonah knew he would. Then we read of one of the strangest and most hardhearted prayers in all Scripture: Everything Jonah acknowledged the Lord to be, the prophet himself was not and did not want to be. A more loveless man of God is hard to imagine. His faith told him that a great success would come in Nineveh, but the prophet was a great failure. The preaching wrought a great miracle, as he believed it would, but the preacher was a nothing.

2. Produce by Giving (v 3)

And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor,

„à If you¡¦ve ever donated to your church or another charitable organization out of obligation, peer pressure, legalism, guilt, a desire for recognition, or simply to earn a tax deduction, you know what it means to give without love. Jesus, making a similar point, said, ¡§Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven¡¨ (Matt. 6:1).

If your motive for giving is to gain the approval of men, their accolades will be your only reward. If you¡¦re motivated by love for God, He will reward you abundantly (vv. 2¡V4). When you give to the Lord, what is your motive? Do you want others to think more highly of you? Do you feel obligated? Those are subtle influences, so be sure to guard your motives carefully. Remember, the only acceptable motive is love.

Luke 18:28 Then Peter said, "See, we have left all and followed You."

Luke 19:8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold."

Luke 21:3 He said, "Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all;

Luke 21:4 "for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had."

3. Result In Death (v3)

and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

„à Finally, Paul say¡¦s if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. In Paul¡¦s time, many slaves were branded with a hot iron to identify them as belonging to their master. For that reason, some interpreters believe Paul was referring to becoming a slave when he spoke of delivering his body to be burned (1 Cor. 13:3). Others think he was speaking of burning at the stake¡Xa death that many Christians suffered at the hands of their persecutors.

„à Although death by burning wasn¡¦t a common form of persecution until after Paul wrote to the Corinthians, I believe that¡¦s what he had in mind in this passage. In verses 1¡V2 he used extremes to make his point: speaking with the tongues of angels, knowing all mysteries and having all knowledge, having all faith, and giving all one¡¦s possessions to feed the poor. The horrible, agonizing pain associated with death by fire is consistent with those extremes.

„à Jesus called martyrdom the highest expression of love (John 15:13). But it isn¡¦t always a godly or loving thing to do. Many people have died for lesser reasons. You may recall stories of the Japanese pilots in World War II or, more recently, monks or students who burned themselves in protest of some political or social injustice.

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