“If I have the gift of prophecy … but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2).
Love is an indispensable ingredient in the learning process.
I have the privilege of spending time each week with hundreds of young people who attend The Master’s College. As I observe their progress, I see the impact godly teachers have had on their lives, and I’m convinced that students learn best when they know that their teachers genuinely care about them.
Isn’t that true in any relationship? Don’t you respond more readily to those who love you and have your best interests at heart? That’s certainly true in ministry. Think of the pastors and teachers who have meant the most to you over the years. They’re probably the ones who have loved you and ministered to you in special ways.
Whether it’s a pastor, teacher, family member, or friend, whoever speaks to people on behalf of God must do so with genuine love and concern. That’s the positive side of Paul’s negative statement in 1 Corinthians 13:2. Jeremiah was such a man. He loved the people of Israel deeply and was grieved at their apostasy and impending judgment. “O that my head were waters,” he said, “and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” (Jer. 9:1). That’s the spirit of a loving prophet, and this was typical of Jeremiah’s lament over his people’s sin.
Loveless preaching and teaching misrepresent God’s character and hinder the gospel; loving proclamation is winsome and effective. That doesn’t mean that all who hear you will respond positively; quite the contrary. The people of Judah didn’t listen to Jeremiah, so they incurred severe judgment. Similarly, some to whom you speak will politely reject what you say; others will react with hostility. But those who respond in faith will appreciate your loving concern for their spiritual well-being.
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for those who have ministered to you in love. Seek to follow their example as you reach out to others.
For Further Study: Read Acts 20:19, 31, Romans 9:2–3, and 2 Corinthians 2:4, noting the things that prompted Paul to weep for the people to whom he ministered.