Lead With Your Heart… Not With Your Head

1 Corinthians 13:2 

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

In the David Kinnaman’s book, UnChristian, one of the interviews of an un-churched 34 year old by the name of Steven revealed this encounter:

“A young guy approached me in a subway station once, friendly, full of questions, interested in talking.  He seemed really nice, and I couldn’t believe a New Yorker was being so, well, nice!  We exchanged numbers and said we’d hang out sometime.  Next time I
heard from him, he invited me to a Bible study, and that was all he wanted to talk about.  When I said, “No thanks,” I never heard from him again.”

Gifts of prophecy, the ability to understand life’s deepest mysteries, knowledge as vast as a set of Brittanicas… doesn’t make you somebody.  It certainly doesn’t make you a mature believer.  Paul says without love… you are actually a nobody.

Knowledge and faith without love are of no value in this world.  Now it goes without saying that knowledge and faith are both important elements of the Christian life.  We have a Sunday School and desire to see everyone who calls Jesus their Lord to be taught the Word.  And faith… how can one make much progress in the Christian journey without it?  Paul says elsewhere that “We walk BY faith, not by sight.”

But once again… knowledge and faith can both be done without an ounce of compassion within us.

This is particularly true of knowledge.  Paul states elsewhere that “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”  There is a pitfall for the intellectual among us to try to STUDY God.  The head fills with knowledge but the heart can remain unchanged.  This was the
problem of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day.

Rebecca Manley Pippert shares:  “The Pharisees studied God.  They memorized the Scriptures and knew every word.  They even devised games with their scrolls.  They would throw a dart into a rolled up scroll.  The word would be read where the dart landed and they would then have to recite the rest of the verse.  They felt that through study they could find God and that knowledge was the avenue to transformation.  Jesus himself commented to the Pharisees, “You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life.”  To know the Scriptures is to know God, they thought.

Without love we, the knowledgeable and the faithful, rather than becoming distinguished… are actually nothing… NOBODIES.  Your faith may move mountains, but your approach to others isn’t moving any hearts.  Trying desperately to reach someone for the Lord?  Lead with your heart… not with your head!

Words That Warm Hearts

1 Corinthians 1:1-3

My last post was titled:  Words Without Love are Just Noise.

Having said that… let me first of all affirm the power of words in a relationship.  There are those here that are still smarting from a relationship with a parent that couldn’t say those simple three words:  “I love you.”  Encouraging Words are a Love Language for many.  (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Languages-Secret-That-Lasts/dp/0802473156/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1318869985&sr=8-1)  So what is Paul trying to say?  He’s saying words are just words if there is no love behind them.  Words with genuine love behind them are powerful!
Words without love… are like fm static… feedback from a sound board… a clanging piece of brass.  Imagine you live in a small apartment that has thin walls… next door is a child that daily practices his instrument… A set of cymbals.
That is language divorced from love.

                   In Paul’s day, many pagan temples in Corinth had large gongs or cymbals hanging near their entrances.  And people would bang them as they entered to somehow get the attention of the god (little g) they had come to worship.  It is almost as though Paul is saying:  Flowery words about the Father that aren’t rooted in love… are a pagan ritual.

Could that be the way Christians sound to the world sometimes?  We sound the alarm about the need for salvation, we warn about the coming judgment…  we declare how people should live and then fight amongst ourselves and separate from one another… and all the world can hear are cymbals crash together.  Ravi Zacharias notes:  “Without the undergirding of love, the possessor of any conviciton becomes obnoxious, and the dogma believed becomes repulsive to the one who disagrees with it.  The early church also lived in an intensely pluralistic culture in which it had to deliver an exclusivistic message, but the believers were distinguished and recognized by their love.  Our Lord Himself proclaimed truth in exclusive terms, terms in which there was no compromise, but He demonstrated that truth by the embodiment of perfect love.”  (Deliver Us From Evil, p.83)

James W. Moore tells this parable to make this point:  Once upon a time there was a piece of iron, which was very strong and very hard.  Many attempts had been made to break it, but all had failed.  “I’ll master it,” said the axe… and his blows fell heavily upon the piece of iron, but every blow only made the axe’s edge more blunt, until it finally ceased to strike and gave up in frustration.

“Leave it to me,” said the saw… and it worked back and forth on the iron’s surface until its jagged teeth were all worn and broken.  Then in despair, the saw quit trying and fell to the side.  “Ah!” said the hammer, “I knew you two wouldn’t succeed.  I’ll show you how to do this!”  But at the first fierce blow, off flew its head and the piece of iron remained just as before, proud and hard and unchanged.

“Shall I try?” asked the small soft flame.  “Forget it,” everyone else said.  “What can you do?  You’re too small and you have no strength.”  But the small soft flame curled around the piece of iron, embraced it… and never left it until it melted under its warm irresistible influence.

God’s way is not to break hearts but to melt them.  Perhaps it means that that is our calling – to melt hearts… under the irresistible warmth of God’s gracious love.

Words Without Love Are Just Noise

1 Corinthians 13: 1-3

What kind of love are we talking about?

Not Eros.  This is the stuff  of passion… that’s not the word here.

Not Phileo.  That’s  friendliness… it makes us likeable… loveable… that’s not the word here either.

The word is Agape.  The same unconditional love that God gives us… God so loved (agape) the world that He
gave his only begotten Son.

Examine these lyrics:  “Without the Love of God.”  by David Moffitt, Sue C. Smith and Luke Gambill

Can  you imagine a mountain majestic, forrest resplendent in scarlet and gold.

Cascading  waterfalls, sky blue and brilliafnt, a sight to behold.

Now cover it all in a blanket of darkness, capture the sun and forbid it to shine.

Paradise lost in the shadows forever:  That would be life,

That would be living, without the love of God.

Can  you imagine a table of splendor?

 Candlelight falls on a table prepared.

Everything you desire, suddenly all you could long for is there.

So  hungry, so thirsty, you drink of its bounty,

But everything tasted is bitter and dry.

Take all you want, but you walk away empty.

This would be life, this would be living, without the love of God.

What a haunting picture of this world without God’s love!  Now imagine a church without God’s love… a marriage without his grace… a family without a trace of His mercy.  Now Paul has to convince this stubborn, self-important church (Corinth) that they weren’t mature in the Lord because they were operating without love for one another.  And they must have  thought:  Paul!  You must be joking… we have to be mature…  look at all our success!  Look at our giftedness!  What’s love got to do with it?  Paul says the bottom line is love… without love there is no success, without love your giftedness is wasted.

1 Cor. 13:1-3

“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. [2] 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. [3] If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Now I can just hear the Corinthians objecting:  Paul, we’re mature, we have the most eloquent speech you have ever heard.  Now in the first century, great orators were sought after.

We still today fill stadiums, download podcasts, and attend lectures to hear great men and women speak.  But Paul declares:  Even if you have the greatest words of men AND ANGELS!  But words without LOVE are just NOISE.

“What’s Love Got to Do With It?” – Everything!

1 Cor. 12:29-31 

Remember the wail of that Mid-Eighties diva, Tina Turner?

“What’s love got to do, got to do with it?  What’s love but a second hand emotion?”

A movie with the same title as the song was made about the recording artist’s life.  Tina Turner had walked away from an abusive marriage in the mid-seventies.  As a result she seems to belt out with authority:  “Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken!”

It is a valid question… What does love have to do with it?

Relationships at work seldom need love to be professional.  Ball players can perfect their stats for a team that they don’t necessarily “love.” (see Barry Bonds)   Attorneys can get feuding parties to come to the table with very little love involved.

Doesn’t love just lead to a lot of hearts being left on shirt sleeves and a lot  of anger and bitterness when love is lost?  Is pain the only redemption  value for love’s deposit?

And when a heart is broken… how does one fix it?

Neil Clark Warren in his book, Catching the Rhythm of Love notes that… “Over the past several decades, psychology, phychiatry, and other mental health disciplines have focused on a problem centered approach.  Practitioners in these fields usually try to
identify what’s wrong and then set about fixing it.  It you were to consult a counselor, one of the first things you would likely hear is:  “Now, tell me what’s wrong with your marriage.”

A friend told him:  When our marriage became seriously troubled we started therapy.  We went for twenty sessions or so and every session made our marriage worse.  He asked him why.  He responded: “Our therapy consisted of cataloging our problems and zeroing in on them one by one.  It was blood bath.  We dissected each problem in excruciating detail.  We talked endlessly about our flaws and failings.  By the end of the sessions, my wife and I felt like heavyweight boxers who had just gone twelve rounds.  But here’s the worse part:  during the week our wounds would heal a
little bit, and then we’d go back the next week and tear each other’s scabs off.  The bloodletting would begin all over again.  We seldom spoke to each other on the way home, and we fumed for days.  Our therapy didn’t make us feel hopeful.  It made us feel hopeless.”

We all have someone we need to love:  A child, a parent, a neighbor, a co-worker.  And we quote the lyrics to a different song:  “I want to know where love is!   I want you to show me!”  Time, indifference, personality or circumstances have driven you apart… where is the path that leads to love again?  Well it isn’t introspection.  It isn’t satisfying justice… repairing broken hearts isn’t like fixing a car.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul is a lot like a counselor to the troubled church.  He starts out in chapters 1-11 to point out their problems:  division, strife, immorality.  He then takes 5
chapters to answer their questions.  In the midst of a question regarding spiritual gifts, Paul says basically:  “I want to know where the love is.”

1 Cor. 12:29-31a reads:  Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? [30] Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? [31] But eagerly desire the greater gifts.

Some translations have a footnote that says that last portion can be translated:  “Buy you are earnestly desiring the greater gifts.”

Knowing the Corinthian church as one would from reading the 12 chapters that have lead to that verse, I think that is a more accurate reading.  They were scrabbling for
position with their gifts.  Everyone wanted the flashy stuff to prove their importance to the body.  These precious gifts that had been granted them by their loving Father had become bargaining chips in the politics of church business.

So Paul says:    “And now I will show you the most excellent way. “

Note what Paul does:  He doesn’t dissect the actions of each camp and put them in their places.  That ISN’T the way to love.  The “excellent way” would not involve their
giftness, but their capacity to love others.

So “What’s love got to do with Spiritual Gifts?  EVERYTHING! Paul asserts.