Corinthians 13:3 ~ "If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing."
There are certain religious beliefs in our world that require martyrdom as the highest form of proof concerning the legitimacy of their faith. But the willingness to die for a cause does not prove the veracity of real love. In fact, many have gone through their lives, practicing sacrificial religion, with no true love for God.
This was proved true most clearly in the lives of the Pharisees. Jesus declared it to them in John 8:42, "“If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here."
So this begs the question: do you have love?
Many go through their lives accomplishing great feats of sacrifice, even rendering heroic expressions with their lives, believing that with such grandiose services rendered they will gain some greater standing with the Lord God. And yet it comes back to the question--do you have love?
Love, in this sense, is not some sentimentalism or emotional derivation of human sympathy that leaves us moon-eyed and heart-sick over the one to whom we have cast our affections. The love that this text refers to is described for us in its outward form through verses 4-7. This love is found in the transformed life of those who have received the salvation of Christ.
1 John 4:19 states, "We love because He first loved us." Having received the love of Christ who laid His life down--not for His own glory but for the Glory of the Father and the salvation of the Church--it is only then that we can say we have the love to which Paul refers.
I have heard countless people who profess loyalty to Christ declare with absolute certainty that they would "die for Jesus." What a waste if they "have not love" for they will gain nothing. There is no advantage for the one who is willing to martyr themselves for the cause of Christ who does not have within them the love of Christ.
This does not mean that love isn't sacrificial--it most certainly is. Jesus said in John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."
Paul also understood the sacrifice of love displayed by Christ quite clearly, "But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
But the sacrifice must be the expression of love and not the means of trying to manipulate the Lord to receive you outside of Christ. To put it bluntly, you cannot buy your way to heaven and you cannot die your way to heaven. For Jesus, Himself, paid the price and died the death so that we could have our sins forgiven through His love and be redeemed through His atonement.
It comes back to the warning, "but [if I] have not love, I gain nothing."
You will never gain heaven, hope, life, eternity, or any of the promises of Christ if you remain outside of the love of Christ. But for those who love God, there is a great promise given--one that I want to leave with you: 1 Corinthians 8:3, "But if anyone loves God, he is known by God."
From the Mountains to the Sea
Every step we take on this journey called life ought to be used for greater understanding. I've lived from the mountains to the sea, and this blog is my personal thoughts and observations with a desire for Biblical understanding. Welcome.