In Paul’s letters to the Galatians and in his first letter to the Corinthians his messages were to groups of Christians who were rife with problems. In the church in Corinth, you name it and they were guilty of it. Sexual immorality, divisions over favorite Apostolic leaders, law suits filed against each other, and even drunkenness and gluttony at fellowship meals, rudeness and selfishness in the worship assembly, and more, were the problems and character flaws of this group of immature believers whom Paul still called “saints”.
The believers in the region of Galatia had begun to abandon pure dependence on Christ alone for salvation in favor of circumcision. They were behaving as if under a witches spell. While in Corinth behaviour unbecoming followers of Jesus was glaring, the diluting of the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ was the greatest offence of the Galatian brothers. He carefully defended his apostleship and masterfully laid again the foundation of their standing in Christ.
In both situations Paul’s inspired pen rebuked and pleaded, warned and encouraged, while pointing them to Christ who is himself the standing of our faith and practice as believers. In Galations Paul wrote,
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13,14)
Paul said to the Corinthians
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
Then in v13 Paul sums up perhaps the most read chapter in all of his letters by saying,
“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love”
Living to love, and Loving to live is both our mandate and mission. Love is our anchor and our attitude as we flesh out the Christ life, especially to those who are fellow followers of Jesus.
You might say “I have a Chistian duty to defend the faith once delivered to the saints, to teach sound doctrine!” Ok, but how’s your loving coming along? Are you clinging to hope, trusting that one day Christ will come and take you to himself? That is noble but how have you loved today?
Excellent theology and sound doctrine are commendable but they take a back seat to loving your brother. Being faithful in church attendence, saying all the right stuff, and doing all the right things are grand, but does the fellow who disagrees with you about some practice or doctrine feel the love?
If you are the most elequent speaker, know more about the Bible, are more wise than your peers, and give more generously, but are not a lover of those around you, you are nothing! You have the same utility in God’s kingdom as one ringing a cow bell in a symphony orchestra.
If you and I want to matter to Christ and his cause let our words be seasoned with salt and our manner marked with longsuffering and gentle kindness. Even if our enemies decide to say something about our ego driven lifestyle we should make them have to lie to do it. Ours is a call to live above the crowd and to those within and without to love them unconditionally with a pure heart and God’s help.